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Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Teaching is complex, but its most fundamental elements are content, instruction, and students. Students need a welcoming, stimulating, and relatable learning environment to maximize their chances for success. For this reason, BFI requires culturally responsive teaching as a necessary starting point.

Culturally responsive teaching has grown in breadth and depth in the several decades since it was first formulated. Over two decades ago, Gloria Ladson-Billings (1995) described it as a form of teaching that calls for engaging learners whose experiences and cultures are traditionally excluded from mainstream settings. Geneva Gay has since refined culturally responsive teaching to be "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" (2018, p. 36) This includes instructional techniques, instructional materials, student-teacher relationships, classroom climate, and self-awareness to improve learning for students. Other scholars have helped connect culturally responsive teaching with other ideas, such as Hammond's (2014) work to connect culturally responsive teaching to neuroscience and Paris's (2012) arguments that the work of teaching should not just be culturally responsive, but to sustain cultural pluralism and cultural equality.

Collectively, these scholars promote asset-based approaches as alternatives to popular deficit-oriented teaching methods, which position the languages, cultures, and identities of students as barriers to learning. While these pedagogies are not identical, they share a common goal: defy the deficit model and ensure students see themselves and their communities reflected and valued in the content taught in school.

Foundational Readings in Culturally Responsive Teaching