Culturally Responsive Pedagogy is a student-centered method in which the students’ distinctive cultural strengths are recognized and cultivated to promote student success and a sense of well-being about the student’s cultural place in the world. To achieve this, it’s important that we truly understand all our students in our class.
At the end of the day we want all the students to succeed. As teachers, we want to ensure that our students’ exceptional strengths are being recognized to encourage achievement. A culturally responsive pedagogy provides a great framework for this.
Every child has the right to experience success and feel included. An obstacle to successful culturally responsive teaching is for teachers to get rid of their own cultural biases and learning about the backgrounds of the students. First, it’s integral that we examine our own personal beliefs before facilitating balanced discussions. As well as refrain from offering personal opinions without having first reflected on how our personal beliefs might hinder the formation of an inclusive environment.
As a teacher you want to develop a culture in your classroom where every student feels valued. To do accomplish this, a teacher should take the time to learn about their students as well as their culture, race, religion and academics. This allows them to bring who they really are into the classroom and feel appreciated. This can be achieved through learning about the community, conversations with students, or by conducting an interest survey at the beginning of the year and then incorporate their interests in your planning. For example, you can take the time to understand their faith and acknowledge important dates in class. This information also allows you to avoid planning something important where there might be a lot of absentees due to the date.
It’s important that they see their race or culture represented. In addition, you can also put up some of the students best work on the walls of the classroom to ensure they feel respected.
Gender equity is also essential. Both genders have different needs and interests, so it’s important that they’re both equally encouraged in the classroom. As a teacher you have a heightened awareness of any potential subconscious biases and not project it in the class.
Academically, it’s important to know your students with special needs. You should take the time and know their IEP to understand their challenges and make the appropriate accommodations. You should be aware of what he/she needs outside of special education. If they have any specialized equipment with special programs, understand how to use it so they can better access the material. For example, if a student has reading and decoding issues, you can scan a document and upload it so their computers can read it to them. In addition, if you have any ELL learners, know where they are on the continuum and what modifications you need to make to have an inclusive classroom. Get to know the ELL teacher, so you can better meet the students’ needs.
Overall, a culturally responsive pedagogy only enhances the classroom experience for all students.