Adapted from No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching
Geneva Gay (2010) defined "culturally responsive teaching" as "using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them" (31). In her work, Gay identified six key practices of culturally responsive teaching:
- having high expectations for all students
- engaging students' cultural knowledges, experiences, practices, and perspectives
- bridging gaps between home and school practices
- seeking to educate the whole child
- identifying and leveraging students' strengths to transform education
- critically questioning normative schooling practices, content, and assessments
Engaging in these practices requires a shift in mindset: interrupting and disrupting deficit perspectives and subtractive conceptions from minoritized backgrounds, their families, and their communities (Gay 2013). Culturally responsive teaching means including multiple perspectives in the curriculum and engaging in critical reviews and revisions of what is in place. Teachers who engage in these practices understand the importance of culture to teaching, learning, growing, and developing - what Rogoff (2003) called the cultural nature of human development. Finally, Gay made clear that teaching that is culturally responsive must be situated within a particular context, meaningful to the members of the learning community.
Mariana Souto-Manning, a former classroom teacher, is Associate Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Chair of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation. You can find her on Twitter at @soutomanning.