Does Culturally Relevant Teaching Work? An Examination From Student Perspectives, Christy M. Byrd
This case study investigates the effectiveness of culturally relevant teaching by taking into consideration the viewpoints of students themselves, which other case studies have failed to take into account. The process also involves the association between culturally relevant teaching and school racial socialization with the academic outcomes of diverse students and racial attitudes. According to Gay, culturally relevant/responsive teaching “draws on the cultural backgrounds and knowledge of students as assets in the classroom” (as cited in Byrd, 2016). Hughes defines social racial socialization as “messages to students encouraging positive racial attitudes and an understanding of the role of race and culture in society” (as cited in Byrd, 2016). These are two important factors to take into consideration when teaching. The results from the study reveal that “Constructivist practices and promotion of cultural competence were positively associated with academic outcomes. Cultural socialization, critical consciousness socialization, constructivist teaching practices, and support for positive interaction were positively associated with racial attitudes” (Byrd, 2016). Student centered classrooms and considering their own backgrounds and traditions, can have a promising and meaningful impact on students’ motivation and engagement in school. Surprisingly the study determined that the “promotion of cultural competence was associated with less awareness of racism, and critical consciousness socialization was related to lower feelings of belonging” (Byrd, 2016). That is why it’s crucial that educators figure out how to balance the use of cultural competence, cultural socialization, and constructivist approaches in their practice. It’s significant for educators to also be aware of the consequences of the specific words, actions, and overall tone they use in order to sensitive to the diverse qualities and needs of their students. Taking the time to be involved in different students’ lives and promoting their distinct identities in the classroom is beneficial as well. In conclusion, “when asking whether culturally relevant teaching works, the answer from the current study is a qualified yes” (Byrd, 2016).
- Culturally relevant teaching components
- High expectations: educators should provide material and content that is challenging and scaffold the learning of students. It is important for educators to hold high standards while also being realistic and understanding when not all students will meet those expectations. These expectations should build on the abilities and strengths of students.
- Promoting cultural competence: educators should recognize and understand the communities and the home lives of students.
- Promoting critical consciousness: current social problems and issues such as racial inequality should in some way be addressed in the classroom (dependent on age level). Give students the chance to engage in decision making in order to empower them.
- School racial socialization components
- Cultural socialization: allow students to learn about their own culture in the school setting
- Promotion of cultural competence: encourage students to discover and learn about cultures that are different than their own
- Support for positive interaction: teachers can advocate for interactions and friendships between students of different races or cultures
Teach about cultural diversity even when the class is not diverse. Encourage appreciation for diversity but acknowledge current inequities” (Byrd, 2016).