Many Paths, Many Cultures… Advancing the Journey
Improving cultural competency is a journey in which all educators have a responsibility to participate and to cultivate. We must seek to develop inclusive, culturally responsive, and racially equitable practices for our P-12 students. We are learning to incorporate the elements that address the needs of our increasing numbers of culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse learners. Culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy (CRRP) is a critical component to overcoming persistent and predictable systemic barriers to racial equity. We believe that CRRP is a fundamental teaching practice that transforms both the student and the educator to be co-recipients of an equitable educational system.
This chapter is written for educators who want to lead, implement, and sustain a culturally responsive mindset and practice. A challenge in this field has been to identify and observe what culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy actually looks like in practice. Additionally, there is a call to operationalize the iconic culturally relevant and responsive practices created by Ladson-Billings (1995, 2014), Gay (2000), and Banks and Banks (2004) into teacher preparation programs that ultimately will result in greater student academic achievement. Providing specific models and examples removes the mystery behind good teaching. Throughout this chapter, we share tools for educators to use in their ongoing growth as culturally relevant and responsive practitioners.
It is important to note that this chapter does not specifically address the challenges of increasing student achievement. However, it is without question that our current institutions of education are infiltrated by the effects of historical and current institutional racism which negatively impact all
students, and especially students of color. We recognize the need for the issues of systemic racism and implicit bias to be addressed and named as root causes of inequities that currently exist. If racism is left unnamed, it will continue to have visible and invisible power. For the purpose of this chapter, we focus on the extraordinary practical power that CRRP offers to improve the success of all students and especially the historically marginalized students.
This chapter further identifies key culturally responsive observable practices that teachers, administrators, and teacher educators can use within the classroom to initiate discussions for teacher growth and ultimately for student success. We present a rationale for adopting culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, develop a working definition of CRRP, and offer common language to engage educators in reflections on CRRP in their practice.
In addition, this chapter includes a number of tools and resources designed to support all educators as they journey toward becoming more equitable practitioners. These tools include opportunities for personal reflection and critical analysis of classroom practice.