Some Tips to Cultivating Culturally Responsive Learners

The phrase “culturally responsive pedagogy” is one thrown around in education spaces very frequently. The learning methods and techniques have become increasingly researched, and in turn, they have become a standard for effective teaching in our current times. When practiced regularly, culturally responsive teaching can transform classrooms into spaces that celebrates students’ cultures and identities while creating equitable outcomes for the learners that form our classroom communities.

  • Self-work as pre-work

Any educator getting ready to step into the classroom owes their students the work of looking within. While it is impossible to avoid having biases in any career, it is especially important for educators to be aware of their own in order to reflect and heal from their own experiences. Being up in front of students every day means that our sphere of influence is large and our words truly do have power. We can be the biggest supporters of our students while simultaneously being capable of perpetuating harm. Teaching Tolerance has compiled a list of helpful resources and activities for educators aiming to engage in this reflection.

  • See families as partners

The education of a student requires true teamwork between the student, the family, and the educators in the student’s life. When given the appropriate guidance and support, families can become active participants in their child’s learning and build on the work that educators are doing in school. Something as simple as a phone call home opens up the door for a partnership that parents long for. Opening up school doors for parent volunteers, resource fairs and parent teacher conferences provides the foundation for future success and academic engagement. Through these methods and others, the student team can maximize student success and outcomes.

  • Model cultural curiosity and respect

As a Latinx in the classroom, it is very easy for me to speak about the Latinx experience with my students since we share this identity marker. However, it is also important to me that they read and learn about cultures outside of their own with the hopes of expanding their knowledge about them and to build their sensitivity and tolerance for people of different identities. It is important that teachers model this for students along with being critical and challenging their own beliefs and actions. Brown University’s, The Education Alliance, stresses the importance of including cultural experiences as a way to ensure engagement in learning.

An educational experience that honors culture and respects backgrounds uplifts learning for students. When students are able to view their lived experience as assets in the classroom, we bridge the gap that often exists between academia and the realities that youth of color live every day. By growing culturally responsive learners, we are truly preparing our students to be active members of the melting pot they will become the future leaders of.

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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