Even if Black History Month is over, you should read this article for tips on how to keep a classroom culturally responsive. “Culturally responsive” is a term best explained by Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. While doing research for her book, Hammond interviewed multiple teachers and asked them what they thought the term meant. Each one said that it was teaching in a way to keep uninterested students of color interested by tying the lesson to specific aspects of their culture such as hip-hop, Africa, China, and Mexico. However, Hammond defines “culturally responsive” to mean something slightly different.
“Cultural responsiveness is more of a process than a strategy. It begins when a teacher recognizes the cultural capital and tools students of color bring to the classroom. She is then able to respond to students’ use of these cultural learning tools positively by noticing, naming, and affirming when students use them in the service of learning. The most common cultural tools for processing information utilize the brain’s memory systems — music, repetition, metaphor, recitation, physical manipulation of content, and ritual. The teacher is ‘responsive’ when she is able to mirror these ways of learning in her instruction, using similar strategies to scaffold learning,” said Hammond when she was asked to define the term by Elena Aguilar, Transformational Leadership Coach from California and writer for Edutopia.
For more of Hammond’s interview and the concept of being “culturally responsive”, check out Aguilar’s blog post “Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain”.
Remember, culture should be celebrated everyday!!!