What is Culturally Responsive Instruction?

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Every classroom in the United States today is diverse with or without English Language Learners (ELL). Students have different socio-economic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and family structures. Each student has his own individual personality, interests, and abilities. People from different corners of the world can be seen in the same classroom.

Many educators, in response to this, and because they recognize and welcome the bounty of cultures that are present in their diverse classrooms, make efforts to embrace multicultural teaching using culturally responsive instruction. Current research also confirms that today’s diverse student populations will not succeed in school with the traditional teaching practices of past generations.

Education experts are steering teachers toward practices which make meaningful connections to the diverse backgrounds of their students while emphasizing a rigorous curriculum and high expectations for achievement. This approach is sometimes referred to as “culturally responsive instruction” (McIntyre et al. 2009).

Teachers should consider the cultural values embedded in the lesson which might not be understood or shared by students of other cultures, and whether these cultural references might be meaningless or confusing for them. Though the gaps in language skills and background of students from other cultures may be overwhelming at times, teachers should find ways to teach and reach those students by building upon what they CAN do.

An excerpt from the course, Teaching English Language Learners, at Professional Learning Board.

How do you use ‘Culturally Responsive Instruction’ in your classroom?

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