What is culturally sensitive teaching and why is it important? (2023)

Culturally responsive teaching is a hot topic these days and is filled with complexities and nuances. Start your journey with this overview of the essentials, then use our list of recommended resources to deepen your understanding and start applying culturally responsive teaching strategies in your own classroom.

What is culture?

What is culturally sensitive teaching and why is it important? (1)

Source:intercultural solutions

First, take a step back and thinkWhat does "culture" mean?. When you think of culture, you probably imagine how a group of people with a common heritage dress, speak, cook, dance, make art and music, practice religion and rituals, etc.

In addition to these aspects, culture is the deeply rooted shared connections and beliefs of a group of people. Remember that culture is not necessarily based on race, ethnicity or nationality. For example, two native Spanish speakers can have very different cultures, depending on where they came from and how they were raised. Most people come from multicultural backgrounds. Culture is about what is passed down from one generation to another and creates a unique identity for a group of people.

(Video) Zaretta Hammond: Culturally Responsive Teaching 101 | #PLtogether

Cultural beliefs and practices are something many of us don't think about until we come into contact with people whose culture is different from our own. Stepping out of our own culture can be uncomfortable, especially when we feel that other cultures see ours as "inferior". While learning about other cultures is good, it is important that we feel that ours is respected.

What is culturally sensitive teaching?

What is culturally sensitive teaching and why is it important? (2)

Source:education week


(Video) Education Buzzwords Defined: What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?

Culturally engaging teaching is based on the understanding that we learn best when we can connect with the material. For culturally responsible teachers, this means bringing together the diverse experiences, customs, communication styles, and perspectives of their students throughout the learning process.

Geneva Gay first used the term in her 2000 book,Culturally Responsive Lessons: Theory, Research, and Practice. Students from historically marginalized cultures were found to perform better academically when teachers made an effort to frame instruction "within students' lived experiences and frames of reference."

In other words, Gay encourages teachers to consider whether their learning materials, teaching strategies, and classroom environment truly represent the different cultures in their classroom. Are your books written by people from those cultures? Are different styles of communication respected? Do you relate your learning objectives to real experiences from all cultures? Do you hold all students to high standards, regardless of their background?

By asking these questions, Gay sparked the culture-sensitive teaching movement. It is part of a broader category known as "Wealth-based pedagogy' and has a wide range of applications and implications. Other related terms are "culturally relative teaching" and "culturally sustainable teaching".

Does culturally sensitive teaching really make a difference?

In short, yes. Many teachers can provide anecdotal evidence of how culturally appropriate teaching makes a huge difference to their diverse students. But if you're looking for hard facts, think about it.This study was carried out in 2016. He surveyed hundreds of students from different cultures and found that "teaching methods that connect to students' real lives and interests and promote understanding of other cultures are associated with better academic outcomes."Other studies agree.

Lessons with cultural appeal can help vulnerable populations stay in school, see the relevance of learning and believe they can learn. Culturally aware teachers feel more connected to their students, especially when they learn to see cultural differences in behavior as an asset rather than a problem. Putting learning in a relevant context, using differences to your advantage, and acknowledging inequality and injustice when they exist are concepts that every teacher should add to their toolbox.

How does culturally sensitive teaching work in the classroom?

What is culturally sensitive teaching and why is it important? (3)

Source:New America

(Video) What is Culturally Responsive Teaching… and Why Does it Matter?

While putting this into practice is a little different in every situation, there are some consistent strategies that culturally responsive teachers employ. here are some examples:

adopt prior knowledge

Consider this story problem: “Chaoxiang's family is gathering for this year's Qingming Festival, and he wants to bring enough Qingtuan so that each of them can have two. If there are 14 people, how many cookies should he bring?

If you're not familiar with Chinese culture, you're likely to see words that you not only don't know, but you're not even sure how to pronounce them. In fact, if you don't realize thatQingtuanis a dumpling shape, you may not know how to find the answer to the problem.

Students from different backgrounds in American schools can face similar situations, making learning unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Think about what your students already know from their daily lives and use that when creating lessons and materials. Research the stories, phrases and beliefs they are learning at home and find ways to incorporate them. Find out about the concept ofbackground of knowledgefor more opportunities to prioritize prior knowledge.

Incorporate multiple cultures into your examples and lessons

As the saying goes, "if you can see it, you can be it". Make sure your students feel represented in what they are learning. Would you like to explore the symbolism? Get rid of the same three poems by English poets that have been teaching you for years. Instead, look for examples of writers' works in your students' own communities. Better yet, ask them to bring their own examples.

Choose materials that represent your students

Take a look around your classroom. Does your library contain books by different authors on topics that speak to your students' cultures? What about your classroom decor? Do they show faces and cultural elements similar to your own students? Children need to see that their teacher knows that not everyone has the same experiences and values, and that's okay.

Put learning in context

Regardless of their culture, all children at some point ask themselves the same question: “Why is it important to learn this? What does this have to do with my life?”

So take the time to sort it out. You can learn about ancient Greek civilization. Talk about how life was similar or different than it is now. Consider social divisions, political events, and family structures. Discuss how your students can learn from the mistakes they made then or what elements of their society they think could benefit us today.

(Video) Culturally Responsive Teaching

Embrace different communication styles.

"Do not interrupt". "Wait for them to recognize you before you speak." "Look directly at someone when you're talking to them." These are all pretty standard teaching guidelines, but they are specific to only a few cultures. In some cultures, interrupting is not rude, but it shows interest. Making eye contact can be difficult for some, even culturally discouraged people.

Discover how different cultures communicate and learn how to accommodate them in your classroom. That doesn't mean it doesn't govern everything. It means understanding that there may be cultural reasons why some children have a harder time waiting their turn, while others are reluctant to speak. Don't get angry: understand, learn and adapt.

Set high standards for all students.

Implicit bias studies show that some teachers expect less from students from non-white communities. They assume they haven't had the same benefits as their white counterparts and therefore can't achieve as much.

But research tells us that this is exactly the wrong way to think. Teachers need to overcome their implicit bias and set fair expectations for all students. Of course, you always have to consider individual situations. But don't make assumptions based on culture. Hold each student to high standards and take each case as it comes.

Recognize unfairness, prejudice and unfairness.

This is becoming increasingly difficult in some places as states prohibit the teaching of things likeCritical Race Theory. But injustice, prejudice and racial injustice exist, and ignoring them will not make them go away. When students from different cultures can discuss these things in class, they too can feel seen. ANDIt opens them up to more learning..

There is no easy answer to addressing these issues in more restrictive states. Teachers can only do their best in the classroom and continue to strive to teach important subjects in a meaningful way.

How can I become a more culturally sensitive teacher?

As we said earlier, culturally sensitive teaching is a sensitive issue. You cannot learn everything you need to know from an article or even a book. Learn about your students' rich cultures and discover what interests them. Be open to new ideas, do more research, and test the principles in your classroom. Here are some resources that can help you:

Culturally sensitive teaching is a complex subject, discuss it and seek guidance from theGrupo HELPLINE WeAreTeachers no Facebook.

advance,Which Crop Day Goes Wrong and What to Try Instead.

What is culturally sensitive teaching and why is it important? (4)

(Video) Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Cultural Competence


Why is culturally sensitive teaching important? ›

It builds cultural competence.

An inclusive curriculum helps teachers and students understand different perspectives, appreciate others' strengths, and build empathy. Culturally responsive teaching can also help teachers reflect on how their own identity and experiences impact their attitudes and teaching practices.

What is culturally sensitive teaching? ›

A culturally-sensitive teacher is one that is aware of and addresses the students' cultural and ethnic needs as well as their social, emotional, and cognitive needs in order to obtain the students' cooperation.

Why is culturally responsive teaching important today? ›

Culturally responsive pedagogy recognizes and appreciates diversity by seeking ways to encourage student engagement by creating a warm, positive, inclusive classroom where everyone feels they belong.

Why is culturally responsive teaching important in schools? ›

Culturally responsive teaching promotes the success of all students equally—something that traditional education methods often fall short on. When students' cultural backgrounds aren't thoughtfully considered, classrooms suffer from issues like language barriers, systemic discrimination, and lack of representation.

What are the qualities of a culturally sensitive teacher? ›

These four practices are: (1) that teachers are empathetic and caring; (2) that they are reflective about their beliefs about people from other cultures; (3) that they are reflective about their own cultural frames of reference; and (4) that they are knowledgeable about other cultures.

How do you teach cultural sensitivity in the classroom? ›

Express interest in the ethnic background of your students. Encourage your students to research and share information about their ethnic background as a means of fostering a trusting relationship with fellow classmates. Analyze and celebrate differences in traditions, beliefs, and social behaviors.

How can a teacher apply the culture sensitive approach in the classroom? ›

Teachers can enhance sensitivity to different cultures by treating every student as a special, unique person and by emphasizing the following points: * That the value of every person is recognized. * High self-esteem and positive self-concept are fostered.

What is an example of cultural sensitivity? ›

Example: People who seamlessly interact with others from different cultures by following the norms of that culture. They feel that they can respect their own values while adapting to the values of other cultures they interact with.

What is the most important element in culturally responsive teaching? ›

Culturally responsive teaching also must have an element of critical consciousness, where students are empowered to critique and analyze societal inequities.

How do we encourage teachers to develop culturally relevant and responsive? ›

But the following practices can help you create a more culturally relevant classroom.
  1. Activate students' prior knowledge. ...
  2. Make learning contextual. ...
  3. Consider your classroom setup. ...
  4. Form relationships. ...
  5. Discuss social and political issues. ...
  6. Tap into students' cultural capital. ...
  7. Incorporate popular culture.
Nov 19, 2020

Why is important to make culturally responsive teaching a top priority in early childhood education? ›

Making Culturally Responsive Teaching a Top Priority

In order to meet the diverse needs of students who come from different economic and cultural backgrounds, teachers are learning to identify, respect, and take advantage of these differences to improve student learning and self-awareness.

What does culturally responsive teaching look like in your classroom? ›

Culturally responsive teaching is “a student-centered approach to teaching in which the students' unique cultural strengths are identified and nurtured to promote student achievement and a sense of well-being about the student's cultural place in the world.”

What is the purpose of culturally responsive instruction? ›

Culturally responsive teaching involves ways of educating students based on principles of social justice. A key purpose of culturally responsive teaching is to provide all students with learning opportunities, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or first language.

What is the goal of a culturally sensitive curriculum? ›

Culturally Responsive Teaching is an approach that leverages the strengths that students of color bring to the classroom to make learning more relevant and effective. A major goal of Culturally Responsive Teaching is to reverse patterns of underachievement for students of color.

How do you promote cultural sensitivity? ›

Use these tips from the American Psychological Association to be more culturally aware:
  1. Think beyond race and ethnicity. A person's culture is shaped by more than the color of their skin or the way that they dress. ...
  2. Learn by asking. ...
  3. Make local connections. ...
  4. Pay attention to non-verbal behaviors. ...
  5. Exchange stories.
Jul 22, 2019

What skills do you need to deal with cultural sensitivity? ›

Displaying the cultural competence behaviors of active listening, demonstrating empathy, and effective engagement is important when moving beyond tolerance. These three components will help us to create a welcoming environment and establish the appreciation of similarities and differences among cultures.

How do you use culturally appropriate teaching strategies? ›

15 Culturally-responsive teaching strategies and examples
  1. Learn about your students. ...
  2. Interview students. ...
  3. Integrate relevant word problems. ...
  4. Present new concepts by using student vocabulary. ...
  5. Bring in guest speakers. ...
  6. Deliver different forms of content through learning stations. ...
  7. Gamify lessons. ...
  8. Call on each student.
Oct 6, 2021

How do you promote sensitivity and inclusion in the classroom? ›

  1. Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  2. Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  3. Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  4. Respect Diverse People. ...
  5. Respect Diverse Talents.

How do teachers respect cultural differences in their classroom? ›

One way teachers can honor cultural differences is by letting students from different cultures be the expert. Teaching other students about traditions, explaining the history and geography of countries and regions, and sharing cultural experiences are some ways to let these students know they are valued and welcome.

What is the summary of cultural sensitivity? ›

Cultural sensitivity is broadly recognized as the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs that enable people to work well with, respond effectively to, and be supportive of people in cross-cultural settings.

What influences cultural sensitivity? ›

Certain factors that affect cultural sensitivity include religion, ethnicity, race, national origin, language, or gender. Others areas to look at include age, education, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and mental/physical challenges.

What is another word for cultural sensitivity? ›

Adjective. Showing an awareness of pertinent issues associated with society or the community. socially conscious. socially aware. socially concerned.

Why is it important to teach culture in the classroom? ›

Culturally responsive teaching builds on cultural awareness, using that competence to better communicate with students and their families, according to Teachaway. The goal is to empower students by understanding their cultural backgrounds and tailoring learning to meet and celebrate their experiences.

What are the three principles of culturally responsive teaching? ›

CRP, a pedagogical framework coined by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings in the early '90s, rests on three fundamental pillars—academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness.

What are the key principles of culturally responsive teaching? ›

The Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) Framework outlines four principles and embedded strategies to help educators create student-centered learning environments that: affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities; prepare students for rigorous and independent learning; develop students' abilities to connect ...

How can teachers become more culturally competent? ›

Culturally competent teaching and learning requires the use of intercultural communication skills. Culturally competent instructors are willing to learn from their students; they recognize the potential of intercultural communication as a means for enhancing the learning of the entire learning community.

How can culturally responsive teaching impact student success? ›

5 Ways Culturally Responsive Teaching Benefits Learners
  1. Facilitating brain processing. ...
  2. Motivating and engaging students. ...
  3. Cultivating critical thinking and problem-solving skills. ...
  4. Strengthening students' racial and ethnic identities. ...
  5. Promoting a sense of safety and belonging.
Sep 23, 2019

How does culturally responsive teaching establish inclusion? ›

Instructors who plan for inclusive and culturally responsive teaching are putting in place the systems that will help them respond to differences in the classroom. Culturally responsive teaching (not to be confused with critical race theory) helps educators consider the competencies needed to support all students.

What is the role of preparing teachers to be culturally responsive? ›

Culturally responsive teachers not only encourage academic success and cultural compe- tence in students but also develop their capacity to critically examine social inequalities, challenge the status quo, and take action against social injustice.

Do you think that it is important for teachers to be culturally competent? ›

Cultural competence in school communities enhances the teaching and learning process and helps ensure equitable opportunities and supports for each and every student.

What a positive and culturally sensitive learning environment is? ›

Culturally responsive schools offer a learning environment where every student's cultures, languages, and life experiences are acknowledged, validated, and celebrated. They are also positively reflected in the curriculum and instructional methods.

What impact does a culturally responsive classroom have on classroom management? ›

Culturally responsive classroom managers filter their decision making about the environment through the lens of cultural diversity. They think about ways the environment can be used to communicate respect for diversity, to reaffirm connectedness and community, and to avoid marginalizing and disparaging students.

What does culturally sensitive practice mean? ›

Defining Cultural Sensitivity. Cultural Sensitivity is defined as: a) Being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value – positive or negative, better or worse, right or wrong.

What are some ways you can provide culturally sensitive care? ›

Examples of culturally appropriate care
  • ask the person or their representatives what they prefer and then to meet their preferences wherever possible.
  • try to understand a person's history by talking to them and their family.
  • ask questions if you are unsure.
May 12, 2022

How can teachers use culturally responsive teaching strategies? ›

4 ways to practice culturally responsive teaching
  1. Build a positive classroom culture.
  2. Get to know your students and families.
  3. Provide opportunities for students to see themselves in the learning.
  4. Set high expectations for all students.
  5. Other resources to support your practice.
Mar 17, 2022

What are the benefits of culturally sensitive care? ›

Importance of Cultural Competence in Health Care. Cultural competence significantly benefits healthcare organizations and patients alike. It results in more patient participation and engagement, fostering respect and improved understanding, which can lead to: Increased patient safety.

What does culturally responsive teaching look like in the classroom? ›

In the classroom, this involves inclusivity, curiosity, recognition, and dignity. Cultural responsiveness is the ability to learn from and relate respectfully with people of one's own culture as well as those from other cultures.


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