5 steps to becoming a culturally responsive teacher

What is culturally responsive teaching? 

It’s much more than just recognizing your students’ cultural background (although that’s a good start).  

Culturally responsive teaching, or cultural intelligence in education, helps create a learning environment that is engaging and accessible to a broader range of students.

As a teacher in today’s multicultural classroom, fostering culturally responsive teaching practices is becoming more and more necessary.

The Census Bureau had projected that by 2020 more than half of all students in US public schools will be minority students. 

Figuring out how to meet the diverse needs of students with differing economic and cultural backgrounds, not to mention varying learning styles, has become a top priority for educators. 

Teachers need to have cultural knowledge. You should try to understand achievement gaps as well as cultural and linguistic differences. 

Increasing your understanding will help you resolve potential cultural differences between students in the classroom.

To become a more culturally responsive teacher you should:

  1. Assess your own behavior.
  2. Get to know your students.
  3. Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.
  4. Adapt your teaching practices.
  5. Teach for all cultures.

1. Assess your own behavior.

It’s important to recognize that your own culture influences your attitudes. 

If your students’ cultures differ from yours, you need to be sensitive to the differences in attitudes and customs to build relationships with your students. 

The first step to creating a culturally responsive classroom is being aware of your actions and working to shift your mindset into culturally inclusive and open-minded ones.

This awareness also applies to your interactions with students’ families and their communities. 

Being sensitive to how specific cultures process learning is a key first step towards building a positive, respectful relationship with families from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Feel like you may already be culturally competent? You can assess your cultural competence by doing this checklist.

2. Get to know your students.

Be proactive when it comes to learning about the different cultural backgrounds of the students in your classroom. Do your research, either online or by talking to your teaching colleagues.

As a teacher, you cannot create a culturally responsive classroom if you don’t take the time to get to know your students as individuals.

Establishing set times to sit down with a student can give them a chance to speak about themselves in a more personal setting. Some students may not feel comfortable talking about their life outside of school with the whole class listening.

Be sure to show a genuine interest in each student’s understanding of content and their general well-being. Creating a culturally responsive classroom is all about creating an environment in which students of all cultures feel comfortable and ready to learn.

If there is a student in your class who has recently immigrated from another country, for example, sit down with them to ask if there were any activities or traditions they enjoyed at school in their home country. This will not only help put your new student at ease, it can also breathe life into your lesson activities.

3. Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.

Students must be able to look at situations regarding culture with an unbiased opinion and be comfortable asking questions to further their understanding.

If a conversation arises about a current event or behavior, welcome a discussion. But be sure the conversation is directed towards learning, not criticizing.

Encourage students to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Make critical thinking the norm and teach your students to value each other’s differences. 

It’s common for many students to too shy to speak up. 

Encouraging them to voice their opinions and questions about what is happening in the world around them is one of the best ways to help them understand and overcome some of their preconceived notions.

4. Adapt your teaching.

Culturally responsive teaching is a student-focused approach. 

It identifies the differences between students and the unique strengths of each child to encourage their academic achievement and a sense of belonging in the classroom. 

There are some important questions you should ask yourself, including the following:

  • Are there any activities in your classroom that don’t benefit all students?
  • What activities seem to engage all students and get them participating?
  • What actions have you noticed seem to get the best reactions out of your students?

It’s important to honestly assess your current teaching practices and modify your instruction and curriculum to consider all students’ backgrounds and readiness levels. 

Research has shown that students are more engaged in learning and learn more effectively when the knowledge and skills taught are presented within the context of their own experiences and cultural frames of reference.

As a result, it’s critical to learn how to adapt your teaching strategies and techniques to students of all cultural backgrounds in your classroom. 

Incorporating learning strategies that have a sense of familiarity for international students, for example, can not only help them better connect to the classroom environment, but feel more comfortable sharing their own experiences with classmates.

Make learning as interactive as possible. 

Educational games are fun for students; they also require active listening and a higher chance for memory retention. 

Puzzle-solving, making connections, storytelling or visuals and repetition are all tools that can be used in the classroom and are commonly seen across cultures.

5. Teach for all cultures.

Choose content that reflects the different cultures of your students in your lessons. 

Lessons should incorporate multicultural information and approaches whenever possible.

Suppose a teacher only references people from a specific cultural background or ethnicity exclusively in-class examples. In that case, students may feel that their cultural background is being excluded and may feel disengaged.

Teachers at home and especially teachers abroad need to make cultural competence a priority. 

Become a more culturally responsive teacher today!

Now more than ever, teachers should be looking to make their classrooms and school community space where students of all cultures feel supported to learn and succeed.

Try to remember to be mindful of the following tips so you can be a more inclusive, culturally responsive teacher: 

  1. Assess your own behavior.
  2. Get to know your students.
  3. Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.
  4. Adapt your teaching practices.
  5. Teach for all cultures.

By embracing culturally responsive teaching principles, your classroom can, over time, become a more positive learning environment for all of your students – it all starts with you.

Chinese Embassy in the U.K. Starts Accepting Visa Applications

Chinese embassies in other countries may have similar notices in the near future, so read and know the requirements in advance, prepare for the application.

To facilitate gradually resuming personnel exchanges between China and foreign countries, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates-General in the U.K. are ready to accept visa applications through the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres in London, Manchester and Edinburgh as of Aug 18th 2020 from applicants who intend to travel to China for any of the following purposes.

1. British citizen and applicant from any of the 35 other European countries who is holding a valid Foreigner’s Residence Permit of China for work, private matters or family reunion, and needs to go to China for the same visiting purpose as shown on the Residence Permit;

2. Applicant (including accompanying spouse and children under the age of 18) who does not hold a valid Foreigner’s Residence Permit of China for work, private matters or family reunion, but has an “Invitation Letter (PU/TE)” or “Verification Confirmation of Invitation” issued by the Foreign Affairs Office of the provincial government or the provincial department of commerce of the intended place of visit to visit China for economic, trade, scientific, technological, culture or sport purposes;

3. Applicant (including accompanying spouse and children under the age of 18) who does not hold a valid Foreigner’s Residence Permit of China for work, private matters or family reunion, but has obtained “Notification Letter of Foreigners Work Permit” as well as “Invitation Letter (PU/TE)” or “Verification Confirmation of Invitation” to work in China;

4. Applicant who intends to visit China for the following humanitarian reasons:

A. Applicant intending to visit an immediate family member in China (including parents, spouse, children, grandparents, grandchildren) who is in critical medical condition and in need of care, or arrange funeral matters of an immediate family member in China;

Photocopies of a medical certificate or death certificate, proof of relationships (including birth certificate, marriage certificate, Chinese household registration, certificate letters from the local police bureau in China, notarial certificate of kinship, etc.), and an invitation letter from relatives in China are required.

B. Applicant who is spouse or child under the age of 18 of a Chinese citizen or who holds a valid Chinese Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card, and intends to visit China for family reunion;

An invitation letter and photocopies of the Chinese Identity Card or the Chinese Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card, and proof of relationships are required.

C. Applicant (including accompanying spouse and children under the age of 18) intending to visit China to take care of or support his/her Chinese parents;

An invitation letter from the Chinese parent and photocopies of his/her Chinese Identity Card, and proof of relationships are required.

5. Applicant who qualifies for a crew (C) visa.

Applicants are required to fill in the online application form and make an appointment with the nearest Chinese Visa Application Centre before submitting applications in person on the date of appointment. Minor children under the age of 14 are not required to go to the Visa Centre for biometric information collection.

Visa applications for other visiting purposes which are not included above can not be accepted at the moment.

Please be advised that the above are temporary arrangements and subject to further change. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

35 other European countries

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands

Source: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain  and Northern Ireland