Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Is culturally responsive teaching more than celebrating diversity?

Are you experiencing the moments when light bulbs are going off and concepts that once seemed too abstract to get your head around are making more sense? And then you read an article or listen to a presentation that puts you back into the state of learning and meaning making and once again trying to lessen the abstraction of new concepts.

A recent article that caught my attention about misconceptions regarding culturally responsive teaching written by Jennifer Gonzalez made me wonder if I had these misconceptions and read on. Back into learning and meaning making.  

Misconception 1: Culturally responsive teaching is the same as multicultural or social justice education

A chart shared in Jennifer’s article provides the distinction between multicultural education, social justice education and culturally responsive teaching. Are teachers expecting all students to think at high levels?

Dimensions of Equity Chart

Misconception 2: Culturally responsive teaching must start with addressing implicit bias.
Efforts to develop cultural competence typically start with having teachers examine their own implicit biases. This practice can delay or even replace the needed shifts in instructional practices that truly provide equity in education for all learners.

Misconception 3: Culturally responsive teaching is all about building relationships and self-esteem. 
Too often educators think relationships must be built first before students are expected to do high level thinking.

Misconception 4: Culturally responsive teaching is about choosing the right strategies.
And oftentimes, the instructional shifts that will make the biggest differences don’t always look ‘cultural’ at all, because they aren’t the kind of things that work only for diverse students.” Three tips for being more culturally responsive are tips that work for all learners.

The article really stimulated my thinking and I hope it stimulates yours as well. Please contact Jaymie Randel,, for a collaborative conversation regarding the content of this article.

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