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Educator Development

Three Steps to Becoming a Culturally Responsive Teacher

By 2020, the US Census Bureau projects that over 50 percent of the children in the United States will be of a minority race, making the country majority-minority. This proportion is projected to continue to grow so that by 2060, 36 percent of all American children will be single-race, non-Hispanic white, which is a much smaller percentage than it currently is today.

This trend shows that as the demographic makeup of the country is shifting, so is the makeup of individual classrooms and schools. With students of many different races and ethnicities coming together for the same educational experience, it is important for teachers to not just recognize the various cultural backgrounds of their students, but to celebrate them and incorporate them into daily learning.

Teachers should individualize lessons to fit the needs of each of their students to create an accessible and inclusive learning environment for all students. Educators can use culturally responsive teaching practices in their classrooms to help each student achieve with their own views of success in mind.

Incorporating Culturally Responsive Teaching into Your Classroom

1. Challenge Your Own Biases

Everyone is influenced by their own culture. In a classroom that resembles a melting pot of cultural backgrounds, coming in with an open mind and a willingness to challenge personal biases is key in creating an inclusive environment.

The same concept can be applied to the various perspectives of your students—and their families as well. Encourage students to think critically and ask questions to learn more about the world around them. This sentiment can help to foster a judgment-free zone in the classroom and can create an open space for important dialogue among students.

Classroom equality doesn’t stop with checking your own cultural biases. Gender equity also plays a role in creating an inclusive environment. Discover four ways to teach about gender equity in the classroom.

2. Make Personal Connections

At the beginning of the school year, it is important to take the time to get to know each student individually. Finding ways to learn about the cultural backgrounds of students can help the teacher understand more about cultural norms and attitudes, and it can help the student feel more at ease and willing to participate.

Talking with students one-on-one and showing a genuine interest in their backgrounds is key, but doing additional research, whether online or talking with coworkers, can be extremely beneficial as well. Students will be more excited and energized to participate in large group settings if they see their traditions and values embedded in the lessons.

3. Incorporate Multicultural Perspectives into Lessons

When teachers only use examples in lessons that reference specific cultures, students without the same background can feel unrepresented—which can cause them to be disengaged with the lesson as a whole.

Adapt your teaching strategies so that the curriculum can support students of all backgrounds and readiness levels. Students are more engaged in learning when lessons are taught within the context of their own experiences and culture.

Making learning inclusive, interactive, and personal through culturally responsive teaching supports student achievement and creates a positive classroom environment for all.

How We Can Help

Culturally responsive teaching practices would not be possible without proactive intention and thought from educators when entering a classroom. Our dual language program, global leaders framework, and Ambassador Teachers are great resources to help teachers create a culturally responsive classroom.

The Participate Learning staff is composed of many former teachers and school leaders who understand the challenges that come with inclusivity and equity in the classroom. Our programs are designed with personal experience in mind to find practical, effective ways to support all teachers and students.

Our Ambassador Teachers facilitate learning from a global perspective by incorporating their own cultural backgrounds into the standardized curriculum. This teaching method can open doors for many students to learn about cultures different from their own in the context of lessons and educational activities.

As our Ambassador Teachers embed their own cultures into content, they can further global education in their classrooms by using the backgrounds of their students as cultural frames of reference in lesson planning. When students see themselves reflected in their learning, they feel a sense of belonging and are more likely to engage with the lesson.

Educators who are aware of the various cultural backgrounds in their classroom and intentional in incorporating them into lessons have a great opportunity to foster curiosity in their students and create future global leaders.

Want to see these programs in action? Fred L. Wilson Elementary has a diverse student population and has succeeded in making every student feel valued. Click here to see how!

Find out more about how Participate Learning’s programs can help you implement culturally responsive teaching in your school by contacting us.

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