In my previous post I discussed an important topic in the educational world, culturally responsive teaching. Being responsive to our students is imperative as a classroom teacher, administrator and staff member of the school. The students are the reason we do this job, it is up to us to guide them down the right path. We can’t just throw lessons and work on children and hope that it sticks. Instead, we have to learn how to develop meaningful relationships with our students. We have to learn how to use who they are to create engaging lessons that they can learn from. Understanding the different faces in our classrooms will help in setting our students up for success. Being aware of the differences among our students and their culture will help educators implement strategies and lessons that are meaningful.
Becoming Culturally Responsive
Raising awareness in the classroom on culturally responsive teaching is the first step. It is not enough to just know what it means. It is the educator’s responsibility to take action on the issue. We constantly talk about knowing our student behaviors in the classroom in order to meet their needs; knowing who they truly are outside of the classroom is important as well. Taking the information learned in a professional development, discussion or collaboration among team members and implementing it into daily instruction will enhance student success. Educators have to be culturally aware and sensitive to the students in their classrooms. Some of the things teachers can start doing today include:
- Treating each student as an individual and respect each student for who they are.
- Be mindful of the language patterns used among students.
- Be sensitive to terminology.
- Discuss differences among students, how they feel about the cultural climate and discuss ways to make everyone feel included.
- Develop lessons that are inclusive.
Teachers need to design lessons that are meaningful with a clear purpose. Creating lessons that are culturally relevant with the intention to accelerate learning can increase student engagement. Now this does not necessarily mean you have to tie each of your lessons to a famous person of color in order to spark an interest. It just simply means you may have to become a little more creative with how you get the information to stick. Culturally responsive teaching is about mimicking their culture to create a learning style they can understand while giving them tools they can use. These students process information orally and actively through movement. Using a form of dancing or song in your lessons can enhance student understanding. The key is to design lessons where students can make real world connections and relate it to their own lives.
Some of the ways to do this are to make the lesson into a game, social activity, song or story.
- Games: This is a great strategy to use to get students to memorize content or solve a problem. Games are vital because they get the brain’s attention as students actively process the information.
- Social: Making your lessons social where students have to rely on their classmates to learn will increase engagement. Organize collaboration among students that will promote student growth and healthy communication among diverse groups.
- Song: Using lyrics to teach a lesson can improve your lessons. The language being used in the classroom has a direct impact on student engagement. Using words or phrases that students use in their culture and outside of school will help them relate to the content.
- Story: Every culture has creation stories and folktales that have been passed down. Through history many cultures have used stories to communicate important information. Using stories in your lessons or having students create their own will help the brain better obtain the content.
The next step
Once students have learned some of the content through these examples the teacher can then begin to build. Educators will begin to see the confidence level of their students increase because students are comfortable with the material. Using these strategies in the classroom will force teachers to think outside the box and foster their creativity. Eventually the teacher will become comfortable with designing lessons with their student needs in mind and it will become easier to implement on a consistent basis.
What is your process in creating lessons that are culturally responsive? Share your ideas below. We would love to hear from you!