By Teachers, For Teachers
What does it mean to be a culturally responsive teacher? Being culturally response means you have the ability to relate to people not only from your own culture, but to that of others as well. Culturally responsive teaching is your ability to engage and appeal to all learners in your classroom via unique teaching strategies, even those with distinct backgrounds. This is much more than simply knowing and understanding the background of your students. We live in a multicultural world, and incorporating these teaching strategies is becoming more necessary in order to create a successful learning environment where all students are able to thrive. Here are a few teaching strategies to help you become a more culturally responsive teacher.
Get to know your students. As many of you already know, the more that you know about a student, the better that you are able to ensure they will succeed. By showing a genuine interest in each and every one of your students, you’re building a trust and a bond with them. The more students feel comfortable talking with you, the more they will feel comfortable talking in your classroom to their peers. Creating a culturally responsive classroom is creating a space where all students (regardless of their culture) feel comfortable.
One of the best ways to learn about your students is through the Two-by-Ten strategy. This is when you take two minutes out of your day for ten consecutive days to just sit and talk and learn about a student. By the end of the ten days you’ll have create a solid bond.
Students who are from diverse backgrounds use different language. When teaching, try and incorporate using their language to help build understanding for the other students. One of the biggest misconceptions about culturally responsive teaching is that you need to incorporate racial pride into your lessons. However, many diverse students use different words or use memory strategies that incorporate rhythm and words to help make learning stick. Try using words to be more culturally responsive by making it more like the students’ own cultural learning process. This can help all students to engage more and process the content more effectively.
Invite diverse speakers to come to the classroom and share their knowledge. By inviting diverse speakers, you’re engaging students who share a culture with them. Research shows that there are academic benefits for students who share the same ethnic/cultural background as those of their teachers.
Culturally responsive teaching focuses on the students. One way to ensure that each unique child is getting what they need academically and emotionally from the classroom is to adapt your teaching. Look at your curriculum and modify your instruction to include all students’ backgrounds. Culturally diverse students are said to be more engaged in their learning when they can connect with their own experiences (culturally).
One of the best ways to diversify content is to gamify it. One thing students love about games is besting a score and earning a badge. Try setting goals and offering awards for completing tasks, it can be a great way for students of all cultures to learn. Plus, gamifying learning is a great way to help students of all cultures learn to process and understand content better.
Books, movies, computers, and tablets can all effectively help children of diverse cultures learn and address their needs. Using different forms of technology and media in your classroom can not only help to boost student engagement levels, but it can also help to depict a variety of cultures that students wouldn’t have been exposed to if technology wasn’t utilized.
Presenting a relatable real-world problem is a great strategy to use in a culturally responsive classroom. When you present a relatable problem for students to solve, you’re giving students the opportunity to look for a cultural link as well use their own cultural awareness to solve the question. Try and use or create a scenario using ethnic events. Students can then solve the problem using their own diverse expertise.
Consistency is key to being a more culturally responsive teacher. Try using all of the teaching strategies listed above daily to ensure that you are meeting the needs of all culturally diverse students.
What do you think of culturally responsive teaching strategies? Is it a fad or is it here to stay? Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.