Teachers who practice a culturally responsive approach use students' strengths and empower them to leverage their abilities.
These educators learn and understand their students beyond their names, backgrounds, and cultures and how they can use them to enrich their educational experiences.
To establish a culturally responsive classroom, educators must fulfil a few conditions. A few prerequisites are necessary for a healthy, culturally responsive educational environment.
It would help if you met the following conditions beforehand as you prepare to deliver through culturally responsive pedagogy.
Build An Inclusive Environment
An inclusive environment would help students understand each other's varied cultures and perspectives and relate to the pedagogy you incorporate in your classroom. You can start by highlighting the topic you're going to teach and how you will connect it with a particular culture. For instance, fireworks are a part of many cultural festivals. You can use this point to teach students basic science and math concepts, like calculating speed. Establishing inclusion would require you to group students regularly with different classmates and encourage discussions for problem-solving. These activities help students better understand each other's unique perspectives and cultures.
Develop Positive Attitudes
Developing a positive attitude helps build a culturally responsive classroom and enhances students' take on everything by helping them cultivate a habit of positivity. It would help students connect with the learning. one of the ways to provide for this is by allowing them to pick from the activities and assessments through which they can showcase their knowledge, values, strengths, and experiences. For instance, encourage students to share their project ideas as you set learning goals and evaluation criteria guidelines.
Adding meaning to learning by bringing real-life experiences and examples can help students engage and understand better. Connect the learning material to real-world issues and ask students to use their knowledge and opinions to solve them. For instance, when teaching about government, you can contextualise concepts through existing political matters. A great way is to use students' jargon to clarify these issues and improve communication.
Confidence is the key to making students comfortable and feels valued in the classroom. You can help students build confidence by allowing them to use different expressions in demonstrating skills and understanding as a part of the assessments. For instance, instead of using handout quizzes or multiple choice questions as assessments, assign activities that require short writing and long-form answers. This will allow students to express themselves better and understand their progress and performance, helping them focus on growth.
These four conditions are the stepping stone to building a culturally responsive classroom. You'll be using a mix of varied strategies to help you create the primary conditions.
We've covered the various teaching strategies and strategies for cultural classrooms in separate blogs. You must check these out to equip yourself better with varied options that you can use.
Benefits of Culturally Responsive Teaching
Culturally responsive teaching can benefit students in numerous ways. It promotes students' success equally, something conventional education models may lack. When students' cultural backgrounds become a part of their daily educational experiences, challenges like language barriers, lack of representation, and systematic discrimination are taken care of.
The following points will highlight how culturally responsive education can combat the challenges of traditional education and its benefits.
The language barrier is a persistent challenge in education models. English is the go-to language in schools by default, and students who aren't fluent in English face unnecessary difficulties in school and understanding learning material. Additionally, they feel uncomfortable asking questions and sharing opinions and ideas because they don't have the language skills they need to express themselves in that environment. When we work on a culturally responsive model, we consider vernacular, and students feel valued and heard among students from diverse backgrounds and language abilities.
Many underrepresented students experience discrimination in various organisations, including schools, libraries, hospitals, and other public spaces. Authoritarian classroom expectations and punishment can trigger these feelings, making students feel unsafe or unwelcome at school. Discrimination can cause students to disengage from the learning process and neglect school and learning at all costs. Ultimately, these behaviours lead to altered performance and a drop in student success rates, which have lifelong chronic effects on everything.
Culturally responsive pedagogy allows educators to respond to the needs of a diverse classroom, bridge the gap of differences and eradicate the experiences of racism and exclusion by making learning inclusive and effective for everyone.
Lack Of Representation
Educational materials are unintentionally biased. We'll often come across books that typically feature white protagonists, movies that depict predominantly white classrooms, and a variety of other not-inclusive media. Standardised tests are often written to favour the experience of racial and ethnic majorities. These situations can be highly uncomfortable and disappointing for students of colour. It communicates that schools and classrooms and not designed keeping them in mind. Culturally responsive education breaks this stereotype and makes students from all races feel a part of the educational community.
Ownership Of Learning
Culturally responsive teaching allows students to take ownership of their learning. It will enable them to think of everyone as an equal contributor to the classroom. When students can embrace their role as contributors to the learning environment, it helps them cultivate their leadership skills and builds self-esteem.
The benefits of culturally responsive teaching are undeniable. It helps improve student success rates, fosters a positive relationship between families and schools, promotes inclusion, and combats social issues in education communities. Once teachers identify innovative ways to teach through different cultures, students are more likely to engage and enjoy education as they feel valued and respected.
Share your tips and tricks on creating a culturally responsive classroom in the comment section below.