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Affirming attitudes towards students from culturally diverse backgrounds

Teachers’ attitudes towards their students significantly shape the level of expectations they hold for their students’ learning, how they treat their students and what students ultimately learn. Culturally relevant teachers respect students’ cultural differences and believe that students from culturally diverse backgrounds are capable of meeting high learning standards. They express their affirming attitudes by:

  • holding all students accountable to high learning standards;
  • teaching students strategies to monitor their own learning (metacognition);
  • allowing students to draw on their cultural practices, home languages and communicative styles in the classroom;
  • incorporating these practices, languages and styles into the curriculum;
  • building on these practices, languages and styles to help students develop facility with mainstream practices, communicative styles and American Edited English, and proficiency in the academic disciplines.

Developing an affirming attitude towards students from culturally diverse backgrounds may require considerable reflection and self-assessment for you. All teachers, regardless of their social background or years of experience, need to monitor their attitudes towards their students and how these attitudes are affecting their students’ learning. This is an essential part of being an effective teacher and fundamental to enacting a culturally relevant teaching practice. These three tools will help you with this process:

Communicating care and high expectations

Enacting an affirmative attitude

Examining assumptions