Culturally Responsive Practices
Providing a culturally responsive environment in the classroom is of paramount importance in building the bridge between home culture and school culture. Making sure all students can succeed means understanding students’ cultural beliefs and practices. By engaging in Culturally Responsive Practices, you are forming an understanding about the values, beliefs, and behaviors of people from cultures that may be different from your own. Culturally responsive practices account for and adapt to the broad diversity of race, language, and culture in Wisconsin schools and prepare all students for a multicultural world.
Glasser tells us that, no matter who we are, we all have the same needs: survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun (Crawford, Bodine, and Haglund, 1993). When relating to your students who come from cultures different from yours, you need to engage “intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically” (Ladson-Billings, 1994). In other words, you will use both your head and your heart.
Nationally, race has been a predictor of success in schools for decades. Called “the achievement gap,” “the opportunity gap,” “the equity gap” - all phrases speak to the long-standing educational inequities in our system. Both national data and Wisconsin state data show that in nearly every measurable area - academic achievement, discipline, gifted and talented placement, and graduation rates - students of color have statistically significant lower rates of success as compared to their white peers. Helping your students overcome these challenges means that you will need to understand them as people who were shaped by their culture.
The Seven Experiences
We recommend that educators enhance their knowledge of all their students using the seven experiences. Going through the seven experiences will help you gain a deeper understanding of other cultures. They involve tangible activities that will help you gain insight about both yourself and about different cultures from your own.
By engaging both your head and your heart, you will understand, affirm, and validate some of the behaviors that you will learn are cultural, and gain the skills you’ll need to bridge the differences between community and school behaviors.
1. Articles are a widely available, easily accessible way for practitioners to become familiar with culturally responsive practices.
2. Book studies are an in-depth way for practitioners to explore students’ cultures.
3. Coaching and modeling are important tools for integrating culturally responsive practices into the classroom.
4. Conferences and workshops are held frequently to assist practitioners who wish to create a culturally responsive atmosphere in the classroom.
5. Guest speakers are a thought-provoking way to learn directly about another culture.
6. Community site visits are another excellent way to gain an understanding of another culture. Many cultural centers are open to hosting visitors and wish to share their culture.
7. School site visits are useful in gaining a better understanding of students whose culture may not match your own. By visiting a school that is predominantly of another culture from yours, it can help bring understanding of how to best reach students in your own class who are of that culture.