Culturally responsive teaching
Beginning teachers are starting their careers at a time in which
the students they teach are becoming increasingly ethnically and racially
diverse. Currently, children and youth of color represent 40% of the students
who attend public schools, and this percentage is expected to increase
over the next decade. In addition, students are more likely to be multiracial
or multiethnic, and they are also more likely to be diverse in terms of
language, religion, social class and family structure.
A growing body of research documents how culturally responsive teaching
contributes to the academic achievement of students of culturally diverse
backgrounds. Geneva Gay (2002, p. 106) defines culturally responsive teaching
as “using the cultural characteristics, experiences and perspectives
of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively.”
Culturally responsive teaching is difficult and demanding work. It requires
- develop a knowledge base that includes understanding the cultural
characteristics and contributions of different ethnic and social groups
to the broader society and the academic disciplines;
- analyze and correct curricular and instructional materials for bias,
misrepresentations, stereotyping and silencing;
- create classroom environments characterized by caring and high expectations;
- understand students’ different communicative styles and foster
Principals play a critical role in creating the conditions that foster
culturally responsive teaching. The following tools are intended to assist
beginning teachers in developing the knowledge, commitments and practices
of culturally responsive teaching. You can use them individually with
beginning teachers. They will be more powerful, however, if you use them
to facilitate learning across your faculty. Many of the tools can be used
in teacher study groups (Professional learning communities)
and faculty meetings as resources for on-going professional development:
Developing the knowledge
base and understandings of culturally responsive teachers
Enacting culturally relevant
How principals can support culturally
National Center for Education Statistics (2005). The condition of
education, 2005. Washington, D.C.
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching.
Journal of Teacher Education, 53 (2) 106-116.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan: The journey
of new teachers in diverse classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Villegas, A.M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing culturally responsive
teachers: Rethinking the curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education,