Culturally relevant pedagogy is premised on three things. One, a laser-like focus on student learning. Two, an attempt to develop in all students cultural competence–What I mean by that is you help kids understand assets that are part of their own culture, while simultaneously helping them become fluent in at least one more culture. . . And the third piece is what I call socio-political consciousness. Kids say, “Why do we have to learn this?” And what I’m saying is a culturally relevant teacher has thought about this and has answers for why a subject or topic is important.
— Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings
You’ve heard the term, but what does “culturally responsive teaching“ really mean? More importantly, how do you build the practices, processes, and structures in your classroom to bridge who your students are (i.e. background, knowledge, values and experiences) with how and what they learn (i.e. your lesson plans, standards, pedagogy and teaching strategies) so that ALL students thrive?
In 1992, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings coined the term culturally relevant pedagogy to describe “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural references to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” Some of the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching include:
- Positive perspectives on parents and families
- Communication of high expectations
- Learning within the context of culture
- Student-centered instruction
- Culturally mediated instruction
- Reshaping the curriculum
- Teacher as facilitator
Since then, an increasing body of research, practice and programs demonstrate the importance of addressing the ethnic, racial, linguistic, geo-nationality, and socioeconomic diversity that is growing in our schools. In fact, our network of culturally responsive teaching experts curated resources below to make it easier for you to strengthen your learning environments so that all students learn and grow.
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING: Websites, Reports, Resources
Don’t know where to start? How about a handful of websites most recommended by experts in the field?
National Education Association (NEA) website. http://www.nea.org/home/16723.htm
Definition and Practical Resources tab offers links to: Ask the Experts; Classroom Activities; & Print and Online Resources.
Aceves, T. C., & Orosco, M. J. (2014). “Culturally Responsive Teaching” http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/culturally-responsive.pdf
Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDER) Center Library of Resources: http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/tools/innovation-configurations/
Nylund, D. (2006). “Critical Multiculturalism, Whiteness, and Social Work: Towards a More Radical View of Cultural Competence.” Journal of Progressive Human Services 17 (2), 27-42. Also accessible at www.restorativeschoolsproject.org under Resources.
Weinstein C. (2004) “Toward a Conception of Culturally Responsive Classroom Management”
This article stimulates discussion of culturally responsive classroom management (CRCM). They propose a conception of CRCM that includes five essential components: (a) recognition of one’s own ethnocentrism; (b) knowledge of students’ cultural backgrounds; (c) understanding of the broader social, economic, and political context; (d) ability and willingness to use culturally appropriate management strategies; and (e) commitment to building caring classrooms.
WHAT THE EXPERTS READ and WRITE: Highly Recommended Books
Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African-American students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Gaye, G. (2010) Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (Multicultural Education Series) New York: Teacher’s College 2nd edition.
Browne II, J. (2012). Walking the Equity Talk: A Guide to Culturally Courageous Leadership in School Communities. Corwin
WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK THE EXPERTS: Site Support, Consultants, & Workshops
Educating communities on cultural responsiveness for the past 15 years, this nonprofit offers a wide variety of professional development, including workshops, seminars, and events for educators, community organizations, and corporations.
Download their free Culturally and Linguistically Relevant (CLR) Tools for Success, ready-to-present professional development modules from their Library of Resources. Strengthen your classrooms CLR by adding the following instructional resources:
- A culturally and linguistically responsive library of at least 50 titles
- At least two class sets of aligned culturally relevant titles to start
- A cultural center with cultural artifacts and images
- Class sets of personal thesauri
- Culturally Responsive Standardized Prep Comic Books Set
- CLR Forums of Discussion and Participation Posters
- Culturally Responsive Learning Environment Image Posters
- CLR Instructional Video Clips DVD
CURYJ (pronounced Courage) interrupts the cycles of violence and poverty by motivating and empowering young people to make positive changes in their lives and prepare them to become the community leaders of today. They offer training and technical assistance on using indigenous and grassroots methodologies to address violence (i.e. Youth Participatory Action Research, Restorative Justice Circles, and Positive Manhood Development) among other model practices to work with community partners (i.e. community healings, policy advocacy, Aztlan Beautification Movement. Etc.)
The National Compadres Network (NCN) is a national voice for racial equity, racial healing, training, technical assistance, system change and culture-infused efforts to create transformational change. It brings together culturally-rooted, nationally recognized leaders in the fields of health, trauma, healing, education, fatherhood, rites of passage, family violence, teen pregnancy prevention, cultural competence, juvenile justice, social services, advocacy, racial equity and evidence-based research and evaluation.
Their nationally recognized culturally based curriculum includes: Joven Noble Rites of Passage Character Development curriculum, Xinachtli Female Rites of Passage, Cara y Corazon Face and Heart Family Strengthening curriculum and the Circulos Healing and Support Circle systems.
“Standards-Based, Research-Driven, Culturally Relevant Instructional Strategies” featuring Dr. Chike Akua. The site also hosts a rich collection of Video-Clips.
WHAT Culturally Relevant STANDARDS & EXPECTATIONS
DO I ALIGN TO?
Administrators (Educational Leaders)
Standards of Quality and Effectiveness: Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Program Standards
Category I: Program Design and Coordination
Program Standard 4: Equity, Diversity and Access
By design, the administrative services preparation program provides each candidate with an opportunity to understand and apply theories and principles of educational equity within the educational context, for the purposes of creating more socially just learning environments. Through coursework and fieldwork, candidates (a) examine their personal attitudes related to issues of privilege and power in different domains including race, gender, language, sexual orientation, religion, ableness, and socio-economic status; (b) learn ways to analyze, monitor, and address these issues at the individual and system level; (c) understand how explicit and implicit racial bias impacts instruction, classroom management, and other school policies; and (d) come to understand the role of the leader in creating equitable outcomes in schools. The program provides opportunities for candidates to learn how to identify, analyze and minimize personal bias, how policies and historical practices create and maintain institutional bias, and how leaders can address and monitor institutional-level inequity.
The program prepares candidates to improve schooling for all students with an emphasis on vulnerable and historically underserved students by examining teaching, learning, student engagement, student discipline, school culture, family involvement, and other programmatic supports in the school for the purposes of providing effective instruction and equitable access for all students. The program ensures candidates understand pedagogical approaches that recognize the importance of building on students’ strengths and assets as a foundation for supporting all students, especially historically underserved students including English learners and students with special needs.
California Administrator Content Expectations (CACEs)
CACE B. INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
B-32. Identify and recognize discriminatory practices in education and how to identify, analyze, minimize, and eliminate potential personal and institutional bias
CACE C. MANAGEMENT AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
C-3. Culturally responsive, research-based, student centered classroom management and school-wide positive discipline intervention and prevention strategies that address the social and mental health needs of the child with the goal of keeping all students in school and on course toward graduation
California Administrator Performance Expectations (CAPE)
Effective educational leaders strive for equity of educational opportunity and culturally responsive practices to promote each student’s academic success and well being. California leaders recognize, respect, and employ each student’s strengths, experiences, and culture as assets for teaching and learning. Effective educational leaders confront and alter institutional biases of student marginalization, deficit-based schooling, and low expectations associated with race, class, culture and language, gender and sexual orientation, and disability or special status to support the learning of every child.
CAPE 1: DEVELOPMENT & IMPLEMENTATION OF A SHARED VISION — Education leaders facilitate the development and implementation of a shared vision of learning and growth of all students.
1A: Developing a Student-Centered Vision of Teaching and Learning: New administrators develop a collective vision that uses multiple measures of data and focuses on equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for all students. During preliminary preparation, aspiring administrators learn how to:
- Explain how school plans, programs, and activities support the school’s vision to advance the academic, linguistic, cultural, aesthetic, social-emotional, behavioral, and physical development of each student.
CAPE 2: INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP — Education leaders shape a collaborative culture of teaching and learning informed by professional standards and focused on student and professional growth.
2B: Promoting Effective Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: New administrators understand the role of instructional leader and use the state-adopted standards and frameworks to guide, support, and monitor teaching and learning. During preliminary preparation, aspiring administrators learn how to:
- Recognize discriminatory practices, signs of trauma, manifestations of mental illness, and promote culturally responsive, positive and restorative strategies to address diverse student and school needs.
CAPE 4: FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT — Education leaders collaborate with families and other stakeholders to address diverse student and community interests and mobilize community resources.
4A: Parent and Family Engagement: New administrators engage families in education and school activities and understand the benefits of and regulations pertaining to their involvement. During preliminary preparation, aspiring administrators learn how to:
- Engage family and community members in accomplishing the school’s vision of equitable schooling and continuous improvement that includes the academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, mental and physical health, and/or other supports needed to succeed in school.
4B: Community Involvement: New administrators recognize the range of family and community perspectives and, where appropriate, use facilitation skills to assist individuals and groups in reaching consensus on key issues that affect student learning, safety, and well being. During preliminary preparation, aspiring administrators learn how to:
- Access community programs and services that assist all students, including those who require extra academic, mental health, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, physical, or other needs to succeed in school.
CAPE 5: ETHICS AND INTEGRITY — Education leaders make decisions, model, and behave in ways that demonstrate professionalism, ethics, integrity, justice, and equity and hold staff to the same standard.
5B: Ethical Decision-Making: New administrators develop and know how to use professional influence with staff, students, and community to develop a climate of trust, mutual respect, and honest communication necessary to consistently make fair and equitable decisions on behalf of all students. During preliminary preparation, aspiring administrators learn how to:
- Recognize any possible institutional barriers to student and staff learning and use strategies that overcome barriers that derive from economic, social-emotional, racial, linguistic, cultural, physical, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other sources of educational disadvantage or discrimination.
California Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (CPSEL)
CPSEL 1A: Student–Centered Vision: Leaders shape a collective vision that uses multiple measures of data and focuses on equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for all students.
1A-1 Advance support for the academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, behavioral, and physical development of each learner.
1A-3 Address achievement and opportunity disparities between student groups, with attention to those with special needs; cultural, racial, and linguistic differences; and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
CPSEL 3C: Climate: Leaders facilitate safe, fair, and respectful environments that meet the intellectual, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, and physical needs of each learner.
3C-2 Implement a positive and equitable student responsibility and behavior system with teaching, intervention and prevention strategies and protocols that are clear, fair, incremental, restorative, culturally responsive, and celebrate student and school achievement.
CPSEL 4C: Community Resources and Services: Leaders leverage and integrate community resources and services to meet the varied needs of all students.
4C-1 Seek out and collaborate with community programs and services that assist students who need academic, mental, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, physical, or other support to succeed in school.
CPSEL 5A: Reflective Practice: Leaders act upon a personal code of ethics that requires continuous reflection and learning.
5A-1 Examine personal assumptions, values, and beliefs to address students’ various academic, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, physical, and economic assets and needs and promote equitable practices and access appropriate resources.
5A-4 Continuously improve cultural proficiency skills and competency in curriculum, instruction, and assessment for all learners.
CPSEL 5B: Ethical Decision-Making: Leaders guide and support personal and collective actions that use relevant evidence and available research to make fair and ethical decisions.
5B-3 Identify personal and institutional biases and remove barriers that derive from economic, social-emotional, racial, linguistic, cultural, physical, gender, or other sources of educational disadvantage or discrimination.
CPSEL 6B: Professional Influence: Leaders use their understanding of social, cultural, economic, legal and political contexts to shape policies that lead to all students to graduate ready for college and career.
6B-1 Advocate for equity and adequacy in providing for students’ and families’ educational, linguistic, cultural, social-emotional, legal, physical, and economic needs, so every student can meet education expectations and goals.
Preliminary Multiple Subject and Single Subject Credential Program Standards
Standard 1: Program Design and Curriculum
The program’s design is grounded in a clearly articulated theory of teaching and learning that is research- and evidence-based. The program’s theoretical foundations are reflected in the organization, scope and sequence of the curriculum provided to candidates.
In order to prepare candidates to effectively teach all California public school students, key elements within the program’s curriculum include typical and atypical child and adolescent growth and development; human learning theory; social, cultural, philosophical and historical foundations of education; subject-specific pedagogy; designing and implementing curriculum and assessments; understanding and analyzing student achievement outcomes to improve instruction; understanding of the range of factors affecting student learning such as the effects of poverty, race, and socioeconomic status; and knowledge of the range of positive behavioral supports for students.
Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs)
TPE 1: Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning
Elements: Beginning teachers:
- Apply knowledge of students, including their prior experiences, interests, and social- emotional learning needs, as well as their funds of knowledge and cultural, language, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to engage them in learning.
Narrative: Student Engagement
Beginning teachers understand and value the socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic background, funds of knowledge, and achievement expectations of students, families, and the community and use these understandings not only within the instructional process but also to establish and maintain positive relationships in and outside the classroom. They use technology as appropriate to communicate with and support students and families.
Beginning teachers provide opportunities and adequate time for students to practice and apply what they have learned within real-world applications and community-based instruction as appropriate and as available. They use available community resources, prior student experiences, and applied learning activities, including arts integration, to make instruction individually and culturally relevant.
TPE 2: Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning
Elements: Beginning teachers:
- Create learning environments (i.e., traditional, blended, and online) that promote productive student learning, encourage positive interactions among students, reflect diversity and multiple perspectives, and are culturally responsive.
Beginning teachers recognize that in addition to individual cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, students come to school with a wide range of life experiences that impact their readiness to learn, including adverse or traumatic childhood experiences, mental health issues, and social-emotional and physical health needs.
TPE 4: Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students
Elements: Beginning teachers:
- Plan, design, implement and monitor instruction, making effective use of instructional time to maximize learning opportunities and provide access to the curriculum for all students by removing barriers and providing access through instructional strategies that include: • use of developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate learning activities, instructional materials, and resources for all students, including the full range of English learners;
Subject-Specific Pedagogical Skills for Single Subject Teaching Assignments
- Teaching English Language Development in a Single Subject Setting
Beginning teachers demonstrate fundamental understanding of first, second, and multiple language development, applied linguistics, and cultural foundations. They are well-versed in culturally relevant pedagogy and strategies for effectively communicating with families from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. They demonstrate effective communication and advocacy skills as these relate to English learner student, family, and community needs.
A CALL TO ACTION: Be more than a great teacher . . . . Be a champion for education!
Do you want to change the lives of even more students? Not just those in your course, classroom or school, you are more powerful than that! We’re talking about improving educator credentialing processes so that those who follow in your footsteps will be equally equipped to join you in serving the next generation of students.
- Encourage schools of education to adopt and incorporate signature practice themes found on this website throughout their credentialing programs;
- Recommend other educators, coaches and mentors to visit and use this website, it’s here to support faculty at schools of education, teachers, administrators and educational leaders like yourself.
- If you have other exceptional resources that you would like to recommend, please let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African-American students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 17–18