Culturally-Responsive Practices - Challenge Map
Challenge Map


Culturally-Responsive Practices

The Challenge

Many districts struggle to implement culturally- and experientially-responsive practices; they strive to help teachers build stronger relationships with students and to implement discipline policies in a way that does not target students of color. Culturally-responsive practices involve recognizing and incorporating the assets and strengths all students bring into the classroom, and developing strategies for engaging families in the education process. Relatedly, being culturally-responsive requires ensuring that learning experiences, from curriculum through assessment, are relevant to all students. Additionally, awareness of different backgrounds includes understanding and being trained to mitigate effects of trauma they may face day-to-day.

In the Words of District Leaders

Poor kids don't come to school knowing less, they know different. If we design assignments that are not built around the necessity of what family income has bought you, if we give things that are more open-ended and allow kids to invent and construct, we see that different skills emerge in different kids and different kids become more successful.

“How are we helping our educators understand how to support students who are having questions about their gender, or struggling with how they identify themselves? It’s much broader than culture as we would traditionally define it, as race or ethnicity….Our promise of knowing every student by name strength and need is really all about being, not just culturally responsive, but frankly student responsive. How do we know and respond to our students based on what they’re good at and help them be resilient and confident, and where they need support?”

Ideas from the Field

  • One initiative created a district wide cultural team focused on not only cultural understanding, but also poverty training so that teachers and district staff begin to understand what it means to live in poverty.


Check out the following research-based resources for more information about culturally-responsive practices:

Culturally Responsive Teaching – From Edutopia, find and share resources and explore strategies to engage students by connecting to and honoring their cultures, experiences, and backgrounds.

Culturally-Responsive Practice  – From Indiana University’s Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, a summary of the research on this topic, including access to the Culturally Responsive Teaching Fact Sheet.

Culturally Responsive Teaching – From Education Northwest, a guide to evidence-based practices for teaching all students equitably.

14 Resources on Culturally Responsive Teaching –  From ASCD InService, learn more about using common language to relate to students, how cultural backgrounds affect students’ learning behaviors, and how equitable practices inspire greater student engagement in all classrooms with this selection of resources.

Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning Instructional Strategies – BetterLesson offers 16 strategies to help educators deliver inclusive content and instruction to ensure students from all cultures have full and equitable access to learning.

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