Strategies for Helping Our Stakeholders Understand and Embrace an Inclusive Curriculum

For students to belong and feel significant, they need to feel seen for who they really are and get the sense that they can be their authentic selves. Crucially, seeing students for who they are includes recognizing and valuing their cultural identity. Having their culture embraced by their community is not something only students desire; it is a universal human need.

 

Educators can create space for all students’ identities by making sure our curriculums honor their histories and make room for their voices. But doing so requires open-mindedness, empathy, and the willingness to change, and many educators run into challenges—from students, parents, and communities—when they try to create this type of learning environment. The following tips can help you navigate these challenges as you work to create a classroom that is culturally responsive to all students.

 

Establish Strong Relationships

  • Build relationships and trust with students and families.
  • Foster an environment where everyone knows they are valued and respected.
  • Build student-to-student affiliation through rituals like Morning Meeting and Responsive Advisory Meeting.
  • Report community-building milestones to families (such as completing the rule-making process or holding the classroom’s first Socratic seminar).

 

Do Your Research

  • Familiarize yourself with your district’s curriculum and resources.
  • Check the district’s resources for accuracy. 
  • Know your school’s and district’s parameters regarding supplementing the curriculum and using outside resources. 

 

Elicit Support

  • Establish a strong relationship with your administration, and address inaccuracies or omissions in the curriculum or in supplemental material. 
  • Work with your interdisciplinary team to develop units.
  • View curriculum guides, which often provide lists of supplementary materials for more in-depth study. 
  • Follow organizations that have been established to support teachers in making their classrooms more culturally responsive.

 

Be Transparent

  • Use a class newsletter to explain what you are teaching and why it is important. (For example, you might announce, “We have such a rich representation of the diversity in our country this year, and we are going to leverage that by exploring the various histories and cultures of everyone in our class.”) Include information about what texts and resources will be used in class.
  • Connect the content to standards, learning targets, and expected SEL outcomes.
  • Provide weekly communication about how things are going, possibly including quotes from students. You might even post pictures of students engaged in dialogue or collaborating on projects on your private class communication app (while keeping in line with your school’s privacy policy).
  • Use a blog to answer questions from both caregivers and students with an empathetic tone.

 

Facilitate Powerful Learning and Interactions

  • Prepare students for learning about differences by teaching prerequisite skills for listening, viewing, and dialogue.
  • When teaching history, stick to the facts and teach students to think critically about them. 
  • Avoid influencing students by inserting your own opinion.

 

Written by Deanna Ross, educational consultant and coach at Center for Responsive Schools

 

 

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