Culturally-responsive teaching (CRT) is a perspective that is based on the belief that all students—regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, disability status, or any other background characteristic—benefit from learning in an environment that draws on the values and resources they bring with them to school.
When teachers are well-versed in CRT practices, their classrooms become places where all students can learn and benefit because they are valued and respected. This means that teachers will use instructional strategies that reflect students’ home cultures as well as their personal interests. Teachers will also work to create a classroom atmosphere where students feel safe and included. This allows all students to build the confidence they need in order to take risks in their learning.
A key part of culturally responsive teaching includes being aware of students’ identities and how these identities are connected to how they see themselves as learners. By recognizing this, teachers can help every student discover their full potential. They also can offer support through lessons during which students will engage with texts that reflect various backgrounds and experiences.”
Culturally responsive teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. (Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1994) Culturally responsive teachers recognize the importance of including students’ backgrounds and life experiences in their lessons. They teach to and through the strengths of these backgrounds and experiences.
It is important to note that this teaching method differs from multiculturalism, in which teachers attempt to teach about a variety of cultures, rather than teach using methods appropriate for students of different cultures. Teachers who are culturally responsive do not teach in a vacuum; rather they create a classroom atmosphere that reflects the backgrounds and experiences of diverse groups of students.
Teachers and administrators of special education programs in the United States are becoming more aware than ever of the importance of incorporating culturally responsive teaching practices into their work with students. Culturally responsive teaching can be defined as “teaching that is deeply respectful of students’ cultural identities, experiences, prior knowledge, and learning styles” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010). Research shows that culturally responsive teaching increases academic achievement for students with disabilities. This article provides a review of current research on culturally responsive teaching as it relates to special education.
Teachers play an important role in creating a positive classroom environment. They are responsible for creating a sense of community within the classroom through their interactions with students. In order to do this, teachers must be aware of the various cultures represented in their classrooms and adjust their teaching methods accordingly. This requires a shift from viewing students as objects to be taught (objectivism) towards viewing them as co-creators of knowledge (constructivism).
In order for culturally responsive teaching special education to be effective, it is necessary for educators to recognize how culture affects student’s self-esteem and achievement levels. There are many factors that influence student achievement: socioeconomic status, gender identity, race/ethnicity, language proficiency and linguistic diversity among others. These factors impact student achievement through both direct (e.g., access to resources) and indirect means (e.g., teacher bias).
Culturally responsive teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. (Ladson-Billings, 1994). Culturally responsive teachers recognize and affirm the linguistic and cultural resources brought by linguistically and culturally diverse students to the learning environment. Culturally responsive teachers also acknowledge, respect, and build on the knowledge and skills these students bring to school from their home communities.
In this way, culturally responsive teaching differs from other forms of diversity instruction because it does not see culture or diversity as “add-ons” or “extras” to be tacked on to an existing curriculum. Instead, it acknowledges that many families come from cultures with systems for organizing knowledge that are different from those used in schools.
Students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds can often feel alienated in a classroom setting. Teachers need to be aware that some students may not have had previous experiences with certain types of instruction or materials and will require extra support in order to succeed academically. Research has shown that students who are exposed to culturally responsive teaching methods perform better on standardized tests than their peers who receive traditional instruction from teachers who do not take into account their background knowledge or cultural differences (Erickson & Schultz, 2009).
When it comes to special education classrooms, there are even more challenges for teachers to address. Students in these settings usually require additional support due to disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or other medical conditions which affect their ability learn at a typical rate (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2010).
Culturally responsive teaching is a pedagogical approach that addresses the educational needs of students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. It includes incorporating the student’s culture into the curriculum and also teaching new cultural knowledge in a way that is meaningful. This approach not only makes learning more interesting but also builds a positive rapport between teacher and student.
CRT also acknowledges that students are likely to show some resistance to schooling, which can be based on their previous experiences or lack of prior educational opportunities.
CRT involves recognizing the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. CRT also acknowledges that students are likely to show some resistance to schooling, which can be based on their previous experiences or lack of prior educational opportunities. This resistance is often exhibited in many ways, such as acting out, dropping out of school, or being mislabeled as special education students. These behaviors may indicate a need for a more culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy, including strong relationships with peers and teachers.