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Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework -Teachers Section

Author: New York State Education Department

NYSED Expert Committee: Alfredo Artiles, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, David Kirkland, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Joyce Moy, Django Paris, Carla Shedd-Guild, Amy Stuart-Wells, Mariana Souto-Manning, Zoila Morrell. NYSED Advisory Panel: Zakiyah Ansari, Tracey Atkins, Jim Bostic, Barry Derfel, Arnold Dodge, Winsome Gregory, Gilleyan Hargrove, Stanley Harper, Eva Hassett, Ruth Holland Scott, Andrea Honigsfeld, Sonya Horsford, Brian Jones, Marina Marcou-O’Malley, Regent Nan Mead, Fatima Morrell, Roberto Padilla, Joe Rogers, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Andrea Toussaint, Carmela Thompson, Regent Lester Young, Jr.

Teachers can cultivate a Culturally Responsive Sustaining education for students by:

  • Creating a welcoming and affirming environment
  • Fostering high expectations and rigorous instruction
  • Identifying inclusive curriculum and assessment
  • Engaging in ongoing professional learning and support

Creating a welcoming and affirming environment

  • Assess the physical environment of the classroom and school to determine whether a variety of diverse cultures, languages, orientations, and identities are reflected, represented and valued. Promote a variety of perspectives that represent the diversity of the state of New York beyond designated icons, historical figures, months and holidays.
  • Build rapport and develop positive relationships with students, and their families, by learning about their interests and inviting them to share their opinions and concerns. Find opportunities to address and incorporate their opinions and concerns.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for parents to communicate in their language and method of preference, such as digital and in-person formats, class visits, phone conversations, text message, email, collaborative projects, and impromptu conferences.
  • Work with families early and often to gather insight into students’ cultures, goals, and learning preferences.
  • Enact classroom management strategies that avoid assigning blame or guilt to students based on perceptions about their cultures, differences, or home lives.
  • Work toward creating an environment that establishes mutually agreed-upon norms and encourages students to act out of a sense of personal responsibility to follow those norms, not from a fear of punishment or desire for a reward.
  • Meet with families to understand and align the recognition, reward, and incentive practices used in the classroom to the values and cultural norms of families.
  • Create opportunities to allow different groups and ideas to become part of the fabric of the school community by organizing proactive community-building circles and activities that promote positive relationships among individuals from diverse backgrounds. Include students, teachers, school staff, leaders, families, and community members in these opportunities.
  • Use restorative justice circles and structures to welcome students back into learning when harm has occurred.
  • Participate in the review of school and district policies (codes of conduct, curriculum reviews, community engagement, etc.) .
  • Attend or volunteer at community events, when possible, to develop relationships with families and the community outside of the classroom setting.
  • Respond to instances of disrespectful speech about student identities by intervening if hurtful speech or slurs are used, addressing the impact of said language, and discussing appropriate and inappropriate responses when instances of bias occur. Use these moments as opportunities to build classroom environments of acceptance.
  • Identify and address implicit bias in the school and community environment.
  • Encourage students to take academic risks in order to create an environment that capitalizes on student mistakes as learning opportunities that help students grow academically and emotionally.

Fostering high expectations and rigorous instruction

  • Have high expectations and deliver rigorous instruction for all students regardless of identity markers, including race, gender, sexual orientation, language, ability, and economic background.
  • Reflect on your own implicit bias, how that bias might impact your expectations for student achievement or the decisions you make in the classroom, and the steps you can take to address your biases and their impact on students.
  • Strive to be culturally sustaining by centering the identities of all students in classroom instruction, encouraging cultural pluralism rather than asking students to minimize their identities in order to be successful.
  • Provide parents with information about what their child is expected to learn, know, and do at his/her grade level and ways to reinforce concepts at home (e.g., using the home language; reading with, or monitoring, independent reading).
  • Promote alternative achievement metrics that also support academics (e.g., demonstrating growth, leadership, character development, Social Emotional Learning competencies, or school values).
  • Invite families and community members to speak or read in the classroom as a means to teach about topics that are culturally specific and aligned to the classroom curriculum and/or content area.
  • Provide opportunities for students to critically examine topics of power and privilege. These can be planned project-based learning initiatives, instructional activities embedded into the curriculum, or discussion protocols used in response to inequity that occurs in the school and/or classroom.
  • Incorporate current events, even if they are controversial, into instruction. Utilize tools (prompting discussion questions, Socratic seminar, conversation protocols) that encourage students to engage with difficult topics (power, privilege, access, inequity) constructively.
  • Be responsive to students’ experiences by providing them with a space to process current events.
  • Help students identify their different learning styles in both classwork and homework and incorporate instructional strategies and assignments that are responsive to those learning styles.
  • Provide students with opportunities to present to their peers through project-based or stations-based learning to leverage student experience and expertise.
  • Co-create explicit classroom expectations that meet the needs of all students.

Identifying inclusive curriculum and assessment

  • Feature and highlight resources written and developed by traditionally marginalized voices that offer diverse perspectives on race, culture, language, gender, sexual identity, ability, religion, nationality, migrant/refugee status, socioeconomic status, housing status, and other identities traditionally silenced or omitted from curriculum.
  • Play a role in helping schools to understand and align curriculum to the variety of histories, languages and experiences that reflect the diversity of the State population.
  • Pair traditional curricular content with digital and other media platforms that provide current and relevant context from youth culture.
  • Provide homework, projects, and other classroom materials in multiple languages.
  • Provide regular opportunities for social-emotional learning strategies within lessons and as discrete learning activities.
  • Utilize student data points and assessment measures that reflect learning spaces, modalities, and demonstration of proficiency that go beyond metrics traditionally associated with standardized testing.
  • Engage students in youth participatory action research that empowers youth to be agents of positive change in their community.
  • Connect instructional content with the daily lives of students by using culturally specific examples (e.g., music, movies, text) that tap into their existing interests, knowledge, and youth culture.
  • Take field trips to community-learning sites, such as museums, parks, cultural centers, neighborhood recreational centers, and community centers, to foster students’ cultural understanding and connection to the surrounding community.
  • Incorporate cooperative learning activities to encourage understanding of diverse perspectives; support students in working cooperatively toward goals; and highlight students’ unique strengths in the group (e.g., public speaking, note-taking, writing, drawing, etc.) .
  • Support students in creating and running student-led initiatives.

Engaging in ongoing professional learning and support

  • Continuously learn about implicit bias, with attention to identifying and challenging your own biases, and identifying and addressing implicit bias in the school community.
  • Use professional learning activities as opportunities to better acquaint oneself with the diverse communities in which their students live.
  • Set professional goals related to CR-S practices.
  • Engage in inquiry groups and professional learning communities with peers and mentors.
  • Analyze discipline data to determine any trends across sub-groups or bias toward students.

DMU Timestamp: November 21, 2019 20:25

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