Guidelines for Cultivating a Culturally Responsive Classroom

The solution to reducing cultural incompatibility between home and school is not to have the school reproduce every cultural aspect of the home and community. However, teachers must create and cultivate a culturally responsive classroom to ensure that they are meeting the needs of all their students. Let’s look at the essential guidelines that teachers must use when cultivating a culturally responsive classroom.

Teachers must believe that all students can learn regardless of a child’s behavior, language, hairstyle, or clothing, and they must make an effort to understand and accept certain culturally related behaviors. They must understand that their attitudes and perceptions of students can affect the academic achievement of culturally diverse learners both positively and negatively.

Culturally sensitive teachers recognize and build on the strengths and interests of their students. A student’s framework for learning begins with what they currently know. Consequently, teachers must develop knowledge of their learners’ cultures and must create meaningful experiences around what learners know rather than what they do not know. Teachers must develop a knack for creating meaningful and successful classroom activities that take into account the student’s culture and previous experiences.

The language used in the school may differ from what is used in the home, or it may be the same language but differs in the way it is used. For this reason, language activities presented in the classroom may produce several different interpretations based on how each student views the world. Teachers who are not sensitive to these issues may see the responses of linguistically diverse learners as “wrong” or unintelligent.

When learners are provided several opportunities to incorporate their cultural background, interests, and cognitive styles in the learning environment, they are more likely to experience academic success.

What would you add to our guidelines?


Culturally responsive teaching is a theory of instruction that was developed by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and has been written about by many other scholars since then. To read more of her work on culturally responsive teaching and other topics, click here to visit her page.

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