Culturally Responsive Teaching: Ensuring ALL Students Learning & “Ready for Rigor”

Divrse group of four middle school students working together on a group project in a classroom with the Black female student in the foreground looking and smiling at the camera.

Children grow into the intellectual life around them.

– Lev Vygotsky

The information and guides below capture the main points of Hammond’s work and the complete videos linked in the resources box above.

As you engage with this content, reflect on:

> what your school is doing well

> what your school can improve upon

> new ways to incorporate CRT into your students’ school day

While we don’t want learners getting stuck in the learning pit, the journey through it is a natural part of the learning process. It’s our responsibility to help guide them through the areas of struggle, so they can successfully make it out on the other side.

Building Rapport is Foundational

  • Reframe the teacher-student relationship around trust
  • Set the stage for “relaxed alertness”
  • Recognize students will NOT risk failure (necessary to learn) unless they feel safe and trust the one leading them to the edge of their own learning

We often tend to focus on race and ethnicity when considering culture, but especially in terms of cognitive access to learning, there are many more aspects of culture that play a role.

In fact, when incorporating CRT, we don’t even have to talk about race, ethnicity, culture, etc.
Cultural Orientation lies on a spectrum between individualism and collectivism. The USA ranks #1 as the most individualistic nation followed generally by Australia and some Western European nations. There is then a fairly significant gap between these nations and the rest of the world as it becomes more collectivist.

As educators in an individualistic culture, it is our responsibility to incorporate collectivism in the learning environment, so that all of our students feel a sense of belonging and are better equipped cognitively to learn.

Collectivist practices benefit all learners – even those whose native culture is predominantly individualist.

Building an Alliance (between teachers & students) Is the Reason for the Relationship

  • students need both care & push from the teacher(s)
  • teachers use the trust developed during the rapport stage as fuel
  • RESULT = students give you permission to push

Socio-Cognitive Norms for Learners

  • Errors are information, NOT confirmation of low intelligence
  • Answers are important, but NOT only the content counts
    • Pay attention to HOW you are processing the information to arrive at the answers
  • Use non-linguistic representations to think (think with pictures, symbols, etc.)

Engagement that leads to deeper learning (into the Zone of Proximal Development):

  • requires grappling, figuring out
  • is hands-on and/or group-oriented
  • has to stretch the student
  • has to create “gentle disequilibrium” between what the student can do and what they can’t do
  • requires you to create challenge, puzzle, and ambiguity in order for the brain to grow and improve information processing > which equals engagement

Related Articles

Resources We Love (And Hope You Will Too!)

During our May Counterpart meetings, we asked folks to share what they have been engaging with recently. Below is a list of all the resources shared by our incredible community, offering a taste of the diverse and inspiring content they’re currently exploring. This list has something for everyone: from thought-provoking articles to captivating podcasts to must-watch documentaries. So, take a peek, pick your poison, and get ready to dive into something fantastic!

Case Study: Merced Union High School District

Through its work with Inflexion, MUHSD is seeing strong results in student outcomes and in closing the opportunity gap for underserved students. California School Dashboard data show College/Career Indicator scores for African American, Hispanic, English Learners, students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are 16 to 29 points higher than the state average.

Passion. Pride. Promise. Two Leaders Help Pave the Way for Their Students & Communities

Tucked away in the hills of rural western Oregon, the Vernonia and Gaston school districts defy many of the stereotypes most of us hold when we think of rural schools. Their communities face both common and unique challenges. Vernonia Elementary Principal, Michelle Eagleson, and Gaston Superintendent, Summer Catino, share how their small schools and communities achieve greatness.

Student Cell Phone Policy: Best Practices for Student Success

As principal of Milwaukie High School, Carmen Gelman (now Director of Professional Development, Coalition of Oregon School Administrators, COSA) worked with the school community (including students) to ensure a firm but balanced approach to student cell phone use. We share their policy and rollout materials to inspire and guide you as you consider tackling this oft contentious topic.