Culturally Responsive Teaching—It’s Not a Luxury, it’s a Necessity!
It’s Not a Luxury, it’s a Necessity!
As the old saying goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. I’ve coached many teachers who embody this phrase because they are so reluctant to try something new.
If you are currently a teacher or youth development professional, you probably are not GEN Z, however you should still have some idea of what GEN Z students are going through socially and emotionally. In addition, you should have an idea of the digital languages and visual cultures that resonate most with them. Such knowledge should be used by teachers to create culturally responsive lesson plans and curriculum.
Allowing our students to have culturally responsive activities integrated into each class throughout their day is not a luxury to offer, it’s a necessity. We are in different times. Today more current and compassionate teaching strategies are essential to adjust to the best practices that will help our students learn and succeed the best.
Cultural responsiveness is the ability to learn from and relate respectfully with people of your own culture as well as those from other cultures. Understanding the demographics in your school and learning more about your students’ backgrounds will not only create transparent and healthy relationships, but it will also allow your students to feel comfortable expressing themselves in every capacity. This helps instill self confidence in students.
Culturally responsive teaching recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning, curating enriching classroom experiences, and working diligently to keep students engaged.
However, many teachers and school districts are not implementing or enforcing culturally responsive teaching. I went to a school district where the majority of the population lived in poverty. My first question to the teachers and school leaders was, “have any of you ever visited or driven through the communities that your students live in?” It was so silent you could hear a pin drop. I allowed the silence to linger and everyone got uncomfortable, I could tell by the body language. This question was not merely designed to make the people in the room feel discomfort. Instead, my aim was to make them understand that teaching professionals cannot expect to earn the trust and engagement of students if we are unwilling to learn, connect with and infuse students’ backgrounds, identities and cultural experiences.