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Culturally-Responsible Instruction

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE) has some valuable resources on culturally-responsible instruction. The information below comes from a checklist they developed, which was adapted from Hanover Research (2017) Closing the Gap: Creating Equity in the Classroom. Research Brief, Part III, Diagnostic: Checklist for Culturally Responsive Instruction.

Engagement Strategies Heading link

  • Welcomes students by names as they enter the classroom. Asks students for correct pronunciation of their names; correctly pronounces students’ names.
  • Uses appropriate eye contact with all students.
  • Circulates around student work areas and is equitably proximal to all students.
  • Uses non-verbal cues such as body language, gestures, and expressions (e.g., smiles, nods head in affirmation, leans towards students who are talking) to convey a message that all students’ questions, thoughts, and views are important.
  • Structures academic and social interactions through use of team building activities to promote peer support for academic achievement.
  • Uses random call strategies that incorporate opt-in or opt-out options for student engagement.
  • Uses cooperative, collaborative, or other structured learning activities to engage students in discussions with their peers (e.g., think-pair-share, jigsaw, etc.)
  • Structures groups for cooperative and collaborative learning. If using random grouping methods, addresses group dynamic issues, assigns roles, and incorporates accountability measures including time for report out and reflection.
  • Uses probing and clarifying techniques to help students answer questions (e.g., rephrases a question, asks a related question, gives student a hint).
  • Acknowledges all students’ comments, responses, questions, and contributions using affirming, probing/clarifying, and correcting techniques.
  • Uses discussion techniques to seek multiple perspectives and bring other students into a class conversation (e.g., many hands, >2, stretch-it with open-ended questioning).
  • Uses multiple approaches to consistently monitor students’ understanding of instruction, directions, procedures, processes, questions or content (e.g., polling tools, thumbs up / thumbs down, unison response).
  • Assesses students’ knowledge prior to instruction (e.g., pre-class reading quiz, “clicker” questions at beginning of class).
  • Connects students’ real-life experiences to the learning process or topic of the lesson.

Learning Environment Strategies Heading link

  • Accommodate discussion by arranging the classroom to more easily facilitate peer-to-peer and instructor-to-student interactions.
  • Ensures visual displays and instructional materials reflect the diverse social identities and cultural experiences of the students.
  • Uses a variety of visual aids and educational technology to support student learning.
  • Incorporates words or phrases from students’ heritage language(s) in the classroom.
  • Models use of graphic organizers such as Venn Diagrams, Concept Maps, and Flow Charts during instruction.

Feedback Strategies Heading link

  • Uses wait-time (at least 7-8 seconds) before calling on a student to respond to a question, allowing time for all students to think before verbally prompting students for responses.
  • Uses reflective writing assignments, exit slips, and/or anonymous mid-semester questionnaires to ask students for feedback on the effectiveness of instruction (e.g., usefulness of learning activities, relevance of material, climate for learning).
  • Provides students with rubrics and exemplars to understand the criteria and standards for successful assignment completion.
  • Gives compassionate/kind, specific, constructive oral and written feedback to help students revise and improve their performance on assignments.
  • Provides opportunities and rewards effort to use meaningful feedback from the instructor and/or from peers to revise and resubmit assignments.
  • Explains the importance of growth mindset and positive self-talk on building confidence, improving attitudes, helping to cope with stress, and encouraging motivation through challenges. Models this optimistic voice in class.
  • Ask higher-order cognitive questions (e.g., analysis, evaluation) equitably of all students.
  • Provides individual help to all students to ensure all those who need help get it.

What do you think? Are these strategies you already employ? How successful are they? (Unfortunately, our news / blog does not have a comment feature.)