A critical topic for schools and communities–and most importantly, our students–is how teachers nurture ALL students, create a sense of belonging, and keep educational standards high.
Only then can students, especially immigrant students and students of color, meet their potential and succeed in school and beyond.
During a recent edWebinar, the presenters underscored that when schools make generalizations about particular student populations and their behavior, they strip them of their individuality, and these students become “invisible.”
You can’t look away
Racial discrimination can lead to trauma responses such as feelings of intense fear, anxiety, and helplessness in students. Studies show that when black adolescents feel their teachers lack respect for their background, it can harm their academic outcomes.
To create a classroom environment that mitigates student identity threats, it is critical for teachers and school leaders to implement culturally responsive approaches. It is important to “establish trust through demanding and supportive relationships, foster hopeful narratives about belonging in the setting and use child-centered teaching techniques.”
Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), a multi-pronged approach to teacher competencies, is not intended as a checklist but as a lens through which we teach and reflect on our teachings. The presenters’ CRT competencies include reflecting on our cultural lens and potential biases in that lens. We have to understand that we can have personal biases but that there are biases ingrained in the system.
When culturally responsive teachers draw on students’ culture to shape curricula and instruction in their classroom, they bring real-world issues into the classroom, particularly issues that students experience and grapple with daily in their communities.
A common misconception of culturally responsive teaching is that this is a feel-good approach. But in fact, one of CRT’s most significant pillars is the promotion of academic achievement that results in students achieving at high levels of academics. Other competencies critical to culturally responsive teaching are encouraging respect for student differences, collaboration with families in the local community, and communication in linguistically and culturally responsive ways.
The presenters suggest that educators and school leaders regularly and consistently be intentional about the work that they are doing with our students. Only then can we ensure that we are taking the time to see students as human beings and not just vessels of the content we are trying to pour into them.