Cuturally Responsive Teaching: The Basics

Over the past several years, schools have been completing training around culturally responsive teaching. But what does culturally responsive teaching entail? Over the next several weeks, I will be posting a blog series focused on how general and special education teachers as well as speech language pathologists and all school staff can improve their cultural responsiveness within the classroom. Let's start with some basics.

According to Merriam Webster, culture is knowledge, experiences, beliefs, values, attitudes, hierarchies, religion, perspective of time, roles, and concepts acquired by a group of people. These concepts are often formed over the course of multiple generations in a group or individual efforts and experiences. Children often emulate the culture of their family.

America has always been called "the great melting pot" because of the diversity of races, ethnicities, and cultures of the people. Granted, America's history has not always been kind to diversity. This history carries a weight into the present and future. News reports frequently point to continued prejudice. As professionals in the school system, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference for our students by being culturally responsive.

We know how diverse our schools, cities, and country are, but what does it mean to be a culturally responsive teacher?

According to the National Education Association, cultural competence is the ability to successfully communicate and empathize with people from diverse cultures and incomes. We need these skills to help our students learn as much as they can each year. What are some steps to building a culturally responsive classroom?

1. Recognize your own cultural norms and bias.
2. Grow your cultural diversity knowledge base.
3. Create an environment for students to engage in cultural conversations.
4. Provide culturally responsive learning opportunities.

Over the next 4 weeks, I will be exploring my own learning of cultural competency and sharing ways to improve all teaching in the area of cultural responsiveness.

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