Often students of color are not given the same opportunities or held to the same expectations as other students in the classroom. Their race or ethnicity can be seen as an academic barrier instead of an asset to learning. To combat this, educators have come up with methods and practices that allow students of color to be lifelong learners, and empowered critical thinkers.
These methods have many different titles but are commonly referred to as culturally responsive teaching.
What is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
To provide a successful classroom experience, culturally responsive teachers use students’ customs, characteristics, experiences, and perspectives as tools for better classroom instruction. It connects students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they learn in the classroom.
The term was coined by researcher Geneva Gay in 2000, who wrote that “when academic knowledge and skills are situated within the lived experiences and frames of reference for students, they are more personally meaningful, have higher interest appeal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly.”
Benefits of Culturally Responsive Teaching
While there are numerous benefits of bringing culturally relevant topics into the classroom, here are just a few:
1. Strengthens student’s racial and ethnic identities
By bringing culturally relevant topics to the classroom, students can feel prideful of their identity and their background.
A study was done with 315 students and the students who were exposed to culturally responsive teaching practices expressed a deeper sense of racial identity. This boots self-confidence, better grades, and interest in learning.
2. Raises expectations and critical thinking for students
Students of color are often underrepresented in the classroom and have lower expectations for success. When teachers shift to solely focusing on what students are capable of they can utilize those assets to create student-specific learning plans.
Culturally relevant topics also bring ambiguous situations that students are left to figure out on their own. To empower students to analyze, formulate questions, and generate solutions to challenging authentic problems, researchers recommend engaging them in meaningful, open-ended scenarios.
3. Creates a sense of belonging
Students need to feel safe and included in order to perform well in school. Culturally responsive practices encourage a sense of belonging by demonstrating care, encouraging socialization among students, and establishing respectful relationships.
Another study showed that students who received culturally relevant teaching in a mathematics and science program felt a stronger sense of belonging in the program and in their culture compared to their peers.
How Does Intervene K-12 Utilize Culturally Responsive Teaching?
Intervene K-12 uses culturally relevant lessons because we believe that students of color should see themselves as belonging in schools and other academic spaces, leading to more engagement and success. Intervene K-12 embeds culturally relevant content in each lesson to increase student engagement during our small group tutoring sessions.