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Tool: Enacting culturally relevant teaching

The following are examples of practices that can engage students from culturally diverse backgrounds in high-level learning. Developing these practices requires hard work, time and deep commitment to students and to transforming schools into sites of social justice. Culturally relevant teaching evolves over the course of one’s teaching career. Use this list to identify areas for learning and on-going growth for your beginning and experienced teachers:

Practice Evidence of current practice Plan for learning and future action

In the classroom:

  • Help students examine multiple kinds of knowledge and perspectives in relevant content areas.
  • Involve students in inquiry projects through which they construct knowledge, ideas and artifacts.
  • Provide students with opportunities to explore topics/issues of interest to them.
  • Use cooperative learning to build on values of mutual support.
  • Design instruction so that it builds on studentsí prior knowledge and cultural competencies.
  • Pay close attention to studentsí ways of learning and thinking and incorporate these into instruction.
  • Use examples and analogies from studentsí lives to introduce or clarify new concepts.
  • Provide opportunities for students to use their home languages as well as academic discourse and practices.
  • Help students identify the similarities and differences in academic literacies/practices and studentsí home languages and ways of thinking.
  • Engage students in analyses of bias and misrepresentation of social groups and issues of race, class and gender in curricular materials.
  • Promote candid discussions about topics often silenced in school to help students understand the social conditions surrounding these issues and to provide students with opportunities to explore how these issues affect their lives and their communities.
  • Foster and maintain partnerships with parents and community members/organizations to support student learning.

In the school and beyond:

  • Identify school practices and policies that result in students' differential access to high-quality learning opportunities due to their race, ethnicity, language, gender or other characteristics.
  • Work with colleagues, parents and the community to establish more equitable practices and policies.
  • Foster studentsí genuine leadership in classrooms, schools and communities.
  • Forge positive relationships with parents, community members and organizations to support studentsí well-being and community development.