Are you a culturally responsive teacher? Are you selecting instructional activities to celebrate and appreciate diversity in the classroom? These are bold conversations that we must have with ourselves to assure that diversity elements are infused in the curriculum.
One of the greatest challenges is the tendency to teach the way we were taught. I recall textbook and reading assignments in which contributions from people of color were omitted, leaving out minorities who made positive cultural contributions. In answer to the question: “When does culturally responsive teaching actually occur?”, Margery Ginsberg and Raymond Wlodkowski in their book, Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College, note:
“Culturally responsive teaching occurs when there is respect for the backgrounds and circumstances of students regardless of individual status and power, and when there is a design for learning that embraces the range of needs, interests, and orientations in a classroom” (Ginsberg and Wlodkowski 2009).
Gingsberg and Wlodkowski’s model: “The Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching” provides a guide to help teachers evaluate and revisit their curriculum. The model includes four intersecting conditions to promote culturally responsive teaching:
1. Establish inclusion. Create an environment in which the learners and teachers feel comfortable, respected and connected to one another.
2. Develop attitude. Instructors develop practices that have personal relevance, underscoring volition or choice.
3. Enhance meaning. Instructors develop practices and experiences that include a student’s values.
4. Engender competence. Instructors develop practices in which the student realizes they are learning something of value to themselves and to their community.
In this model, the student is in the center; the focus is always on the student. Each of the conditions begins with a verb: establish, develop, engender, and enhance, and works in concert to promote motivation, affect learning, and build meaningful relationships with students. Keeping the Motivational Model in mind, the following activities allow students to construct and analyze meaning from their own experiences:
1. Popcorn Reading
Invite students to read out loud an article on cultural awareness and assumptions such as, “Who Are the Nacirema?” This is a short story about the unique rituals of a group called “the Nacirema.” (Note: Nacirema is American spelled backward!) Do not tell students the story is fiction. Ask students to discussion their impressions about the cultural worldview of the Nacirema. Finally, reveal that the Naciremas are Americans and discuss their assumptions about this and other cultures.
2. Academic Autobiography
Ask students to introduce themselves by writing about their family, their support group, hobbies, academic past, present, and future goals. Use this information to develop a bond with the student, recalling information shared in their Academic Autobiography in future conversations and communications to create a sense of inclusion and respect.
3. Motivational Videos
Ask students to choose a music video that motivates them to excel in school. After posting a link to the video on the discussion board, students write a reflection journal regarding their choice. This provides instructors with insights about students’ values and goals.
Preparing this article gave me reason to pause and think about my own cultural views. As a young black woman in the 70’s, I looked for people in my textbooks and readings that were like me. It was important that I could feel comfortable in a setting in which success could blossom. This is also true with our students. They come into our classrooms with a variety of cultural viewpoints and identities that cannot, and should not, be checked at the door. Faculty must find ways to infuse diversity into their curriculum, void of bias, in which students can develop some type of identity connection.
|Being able to celebrate different cultures encountered in our classroom creates a golden opportunity for both teachers and students to have courageous conversations and ensures a learning environment that is warm and inclusive in which students can become confident, competent learners.|