What is culturally responsive teaching and why it matters
Representing diverse groups helps improve the school culture and student outcomes. Research has shown that when students see representations of themselves, it shapes how they imagine their place in the world now and in the future. As a result, what they see forms their expectations for themselves and their peers (Thomas, 2016).
Representation happens in teaching and learning when we incorporate culturally responsive practices, yielding positive results for all students. Culture is seen as a strength with socially responsive methods, which can effectively enhance students’ academic and social achievement (Ladson-Billings, 2009). That’s why it’s essential to recognize the importance of implementing practices that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. Consequently, we welcome the representation of diverse groups, honoring various perspectives, and answering YES to the question, “Do students see positive reflections of themselves in their educational experiences?“. That’s why representation matters.
How to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools
I created this content bundle for administrators and educators to offer effective ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools and classrooms.
First, I provide five practical ways for seamlessly integrating the representation of diverse groups to improve the educational experience for students from marginalized communities. Next, I assure educators that it’s okay to challenge the lack of diversity and inclusivity that may exist within their traditional curriculum and pedagogy. I also provide opportunities for educators to reflect on what a culturally-rich learning experience can look like where the diversity of all their students is presented. Last but not least, I amplify the voices of people of color by highlighting their stories, experiences, and recommendations for a better academic process with video and reading selections in this content bundle.
The EQUAL Methodology™ framework
The “Why Representation Matters” content bundle begins with the Set Intentions section. The section includes purpose, goals, standards, and a teacher affirmation (a positive statement about the outcome of this learning experience).
The next five lessons follow the Set Intentions section. The lesson topics align with a framework for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The EQUAL Methodology™ has served K-12 educators worldwide. It’s evidence-based, trusted by educators around the globe, used by corporations with an education focus, rooted and implemented in some of the nation’s top school districts, and provides strategies to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing schools.
The five tenets of the EQUAL Methodology™️ are:
- Evaluate School Culture
- Qualify Teacher Practices
- Uplift Student Skill Sets
- Activate Stakeholder Relationships
- Leverage Equitable Assessments
Here is an overview of the five lessons in the content bundle as they align with the EQUAL Methodology™:
- Evaluate School Culture – This lesson provides questions to help educators and administrators explore what representation and inclusion look like in the school setting and the steps they can take to build an equitable school culture.
- Qualify Teacher Practices – In this lesson, educators and administrators can explore practical steps that help them diversify the content, materials, curriculum, and practices. The aim of diversifying these learning instruments is to represent students’ stories and reflections in a positive light.
- Uplift Student Skill Sets – In this video, educators and administrators will find insightful questions and steps to help them include activities for students to learn and practice their executive functioning, future-ready, and socio-emotional skills.
- Activate Stakeholder Relationships – This lesson covers questions and steps to help educators and administrators see how strategic and intentional communication and connection can work with stakeholders.
- Leverage Equitable Assessments – In the last lesson, educators and administrators are supplied with questions and steps to help them recognize the benefits of an assessment process that values students’ strengths, learning styles, interests, values, etc.
After going through the lessons, there is a Bonus section with resources and recommendations. With these aids, educators and administrators can continue learning about representation, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Embrace the power of stories
To close, I offer a quote that affirms and validates why representation matters.
“Curriculum is a critical force through which students receive the tacit message of their value in society. They learn which groups of people are valued and whose stories are worth learning. For too long, some students’ and communities’ stories have been deemed unworthy.” –Tanji Reed Marshall
Students from marginalized communities deserve to feel a sense of hope, belonging, safety, and value in their educational experiences. Therefore, I hope that educators and administrators who engage with this content walk away with new insights to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in their settings. Furthermore, they can implement steps to embrace the representation of diverse students.
Marshall, R. T. (2021). For curriculum quality, cultural representation matters. The Learning Professional, 42(6), 56–59.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Thomas, L. (2016, August 22). “Why Representation Matters,” Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-representation-matters-laura-thomas.
About Michelle Singh
CEO of LCT-E Learning Solutions™️, Michelle Singh combines her experience as an award-winning educator, professor of teacher education, Best-Selling Author, and National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) to help educators bridge cultural gaps and build stronger relationships with their students. By helping over 30,000 educators worldwide develop culturally responsive instructional methods, her work addresses the unique learning needs of students, especially students from diverse cultural backgrounds. With 20 years of experience in the field, Michelle is a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. She also leverages her educational technology expertise and certifications, including Prezi Certified Educator Trainer, Microsoft Certified Educator, Adobe Creative Educator, and Google Certified Educator to improve academic accessibility. Find her @lctelearning .