Monday, February 18, 2008

Response to "Culturally Responsive Teaching" article

Hi everyone!
I will be leaving for New Hampshire tomorrow morning, so I figured I'd better post on the blog today! I hope all of you are enjoying a restful break so far (and Lesley, I hope you're enjoying Presidents' Day)!

I think I'm the first person to post, so if I've done this incorrectly, someone please let me know! Overall, I felt that this article was easy to read and well-organized.

As I read, I tried to pay attention to the differences and similarities that I noticed between this reading and the Johnson, Bartolome & Delpit readings. Here are some points that stood out to me:

1. This article states that it is the teacher's job to invite parents to participate in their child's education, but I know that at least in the world of teaching high school, this is NOT the perspective of most teachers. Due to the high # of students on each of our caseloads, high school teachers often leave it up to the parents to contact us. Maybe this is just the reality of teaching high school as it is organized today, or maybe reaching out to parents is something that teachers (and schools) can do better at.

2. Under the sub-heading of "3. Learning Within the Context of Culture," the author(s) recommend that teachers, "Teach and talk to students about differences between individuals." This reminded me of Johnson and his point that in order to overcome issues of prejudice in society, we must name these issues and talk about them openly. This section is arguing that teachers have a responsibility to name differences in our classrooms and in our society, in order to educate all students effectively.

3. One additional point in the "Culturally Responsive Teaching" article is that teachers should embrace student-centered learning; actually, an entire section is dedicated to this concept. However, Bartolome and Delpit both find fault with too much emphasis on student-centered education, claiming that while intending to avoid uncomfortable power issues in the classroom, these teachers actually fail to transmit their expertise to students. So which is it: student-centered learning or direct instruction? Hopefully, the ideal is a combination of the two.

4. In the "Reshaping Curriculum" section of this article, Sonia Neto states that, "Schools must take a serious look at their curriculum, pedagogy, retention and tracking policies, testing, hiring practices, and all other policies and practices that create a school climate that is either empowering or disempowering for those who work and learn there." This quote struck a chord with me...when I look at my own school, I see the most diverse classes in the lowest tracking level. Somehow, somewhere, our system is failing to meet the needs of these students. Also, the hiring practices might also need examination. The article recommends that teachers ask teachers of the same cultural background of our students how best to teach them, but in our school, the faculty is predominantly white--not a reflection of the student body that we now serve.

Anyway, I hope that I wasn't too long-winded. I'd love to read anyone's responses to the points that I wrote about, as well as your take on this article.

See you all next week!


Lesley said...

Hey there,

I am particularly struck by your point about students centered learning. I feel like we have all been taught -- for so long and so often -- that student-centeredness is the best practice for teaching in our contemporary world. But Delpit has really made me think about who benefits and who suffers here. Is Culturally Responsive Teaching one of the liberal/progressive movements that she would critique??? I am quite sure there are parts of it that she would advocate for explicitly, but I am wondering about this point that Deanna raises. Hmmmm...

LB :)

Ann Siachos said...

Hello everyone:

The "Culturally Responsive Teaching" article is well constructed in terms of pointing to relevant research and providing a rationale for each characteristic of culturally responsive teaching. Based on our conversations in class, many of us are already engaging in at least some of these practices. While it may not be realistic for teachers to fully engage in all apects of culturally responsive teaching (Dave, I agree with you about house visits), it is important to have the conversation (as Johnson would say) and do as much as possible to benefit all of our students. Raising an awareness and understanding of the characteristics is essential, but putting the suggested characterstics into practice will take some time. Both Johnson and Bartolome would support culturally mediated instruction (#5), particularly the point about conferring with educators who come from the same cultural background as students about effective ways to teach these students. Delpit would support using resources other than textbooks for study under Reshaping the Curriculum (#6). I will revisit the blog on Thursday when I return to town. I hope everyone is having a restful vacation.

Ann Siachos

JennyG said...

Deanna, I agree with you on the dynamics of our school, they are changing but I do not see the facilitation changing. Like I said in my blog, why don't we have any prof developement on this? Why doesn't our school help us with communication with parents instead of making it harder for us? I hope with the large number of teachers retiring in the next 2 years we will be able to change the dynamics of our teaching population.