“The cultural competence of the adults is intimately connected to the achievement of students.” – Gary R. Howard.
Culture is what makes our families special. Culture is language, traditions, beliefs, food, clothing, music, art, celebrations and so much more! There are a multitude of cultures found throughout the globe, and that is what makes our world so amazing! Culturally responsive teachers help their students relate to people from many different cultures.
Using culturally responsive teaching strategies is necessary in order to create a successful learning environment where all student will thrive. Here are some culturally responsive teaching strategies to maximize achievement for all students.
- Know Your Students – Its so important to get to know your students’ different beliefs and cultures as well as heir interests, favorite lessons, and feelings about your classroom. Your students should know that you deeply care about them and that you have confidence they will love learning in your classroom. A good way to find out about your students is to have a one-on-one discussions with each student. Often this happens when you notice a students is upset. Discussions might just take 2 minutes. I like to invite a student to eat lunch with me. They bring their lunch to my classroom and we have a nice chat over lunch. The students really enjoy this!
- Cultural Celebrations – It’s fun to celebrate the different cultures in your classroom by having the students write, draw and create posters about their family life. You can invite parents to come to school to share food, stories, videos, etc. I lived in Japan for four years when I was a child. When I returned to the US my mother was invited to the school to share our home movies and artifacts from Japan. Even though I am not Japanese, the Japanese culture was definitely a big part of my life for four years. It made me feel very special whenever my mother came to the classroom. In my classroom I always invite parents to be guest speakers. Some of them are too shy, but many are thrilled to share their lives and cultures.
- Diverse Teaching Materials Have a variety of positive multicultural literature, music, art, videos, and images that depict different cultures. For art projects you can have students use different skin color crayons and art paper. It’s a great idea to create math word problems that use students interests and cultures. I like to place labels around the classroom showing the different first languages spoken in our room.
- Differentiated Instruction – Teachers should assess students to find out their academic attitudes, skills, needs and interests. Teachers should provide instruction and activities that will engage and appropriately challenge all students. I have a lot of information on my website about differentiating instruction in reading, writing and math.
- Cooperative Groups – The best seating arrangement in a multi-cultural classroom is in small cooperative groups of 3-4 students. Students should sit in diverse groups to work on projects, discuss key concepts, teach each other and provide positive support to each other. This provides all students with many opportunities for speaking, listening, problem solving and building relationships.