Far too many Black, Indigenous, and other youth of color lack access to educational resources, including technology, enrichment activities, suitable school buildings, and diverse and effective teachers. As if resource disparities were not enough, these students are often held back by low teacher expectations, exclusionary disciplinary practices, curricula that neglect the struggles and contributions of people of color, and school norms that privilege white and middle-class ways of communicating, thinking, and even dressing.
These enormous challenges cannot be addressed without culturally responsive teachers. While educators cannot singlehandedly make schools less segregated and more equitable, they can ensure that students feel valued and affirmed in schools, in the curriculum, and in their interactions with peers. They can promote engagement and achievement by connecting curriculum to students’ daily lives, cultural backgrounds, and concerns. They can deploy rigorous activities that help students make sense of the world around them and become agents for positive change. They can call attention to educational injustice and work to bolster opportunities for all learners. Culturally responsive teachers do these things and more.
Based on New America’s eight competencies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, the organization has developed a reflection guide for educators. It offers a set of reflection questions to guide self-appraisal, goal setting, and critical conversations across the following eight culturally responsive teaching competencies:
- Reflect on one’s cultural lens
- Recognize and redress bias in the system
- Draw on students’ culture to shape curriculum and instruction
- Bring real-world issues into the classroom
- Model high expectations for all students
- Promote respect for student differences
- Collaborate with families and the local community
- Communicate in linguistically and culturally responsive ways
The report also shares research evidence that describes the benefits of culturally responsive teaching. The authors hope this resource enables teachers and those who support them to promote rigorous and relevant learning that leads to the engagement, achievement, and empowerment of all learners.