Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy


Culturally Responsive Pedagogy or Social Justice Curriculum is not just about a set of content. It is about children and adults questioning what school is for in an unequal society with a history of racism. It means that what we know to be true in our lives and in our experience fits in some way with what we are learning, so we don’t have to doubt ourselves and our families in order to be “good” in school.  

What does Culturally Responsive Teaching look like?

  1. Learn about neighborhoods and the history of the city

  2. Research what matters to the students and their families and learn to teach from that place. Conduct home visits in which parents are able to speak freely about their expectations and concerns for their children.

  3. Research students' experiences with learning and teaching styles by asking experienced teachers and the students about what works

  4. Ensure success by setting realistic, yet rigorous, goals for and with individual students

  5. Allow students ample opportunities to share their cultural knowledge

  6. Use resources other than textbooks for study

  7. Have students research aspects of a topic within their community

  8. Encourage students to interview members of their community who have knowledge of the topic they are studying

  9. Develop learning activities that are more reflective of students' backgrounds

  10. Include cooperative learning strategies

Deconstructing Bias

In order to attain Culturally Responsive spaces, it is essential that there be training for teachers in understanding their own unconscious assumptions about students and families. Differences in race, class, gender and sexual orientation are essential to deconstruct in order for the teacher/student/family relationship to be productive.

The Complications of an Overly Orderly Classroom

There are many examples of curricula in schools that tend to shut down student voices in the interest of keeping classrooms orderly.  Sometimes teachers are taught to keep a very tight handle on student behavior. There is a great deal of emphasis on the student’s body movements.  All teachers and students need a classroom that is orderly, but there are complications and lost opportunities for student-empowered learning in classrooms where body movements and student voices are rigidly controlled.


By contrast, teachers who are constantly incorporating student critiques of school and seeking student input into the content of the classroom often also find ways for students to help discipline themselves.