The Principles of
Culturally Responsive Teaching &
Culturally Responsive School
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D
New York University
Metropolitan Center for Urban Education
New York Higher Education
Support Center (HESC) for SystemsChange
Fall 2006 Statewide Meeting
Crowne Plaza – Albany – NY
September, 15, 2006
A brief intro to me:
 Ph.D.
 M.A.
 B.A.
Teaching & Learning, New York University
English Ed., Teacher’s College, Columbia University
English Lit., New York University
H.S. English & Journalism Teacher
English Instructor, Adult Learners, The College of New Rochelle
Teacher Educator, New York University
Assistant Professor of English, CUNY
Marketing Careers with: The New York Times, Business Week & NYU/SCPS
Research Interests: Race in Education, Culturally Relevant Teaching, Adult Reentry Women
Personal: Married; mother of an 22 month old, and loves boxing!
Workshop Objectives:
To learn (some) principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching
(CRT) as defined by Gloria Ladson-Billings and Geneva Gay
To learn some principles of Culturally Responsive Environments
To assess the cultural responsiveness of our schools and classrooms
To discuss the implications of CRT & CRE for our schools
Definitions for our Workshop
Culturally Responsive Teaching
A Definition for Culture
Culture is the shared perceptions of a group’s values,
expectations and norms. It reflects the way people give
priorities to goals, how they behave in different
situations, and how they cope with their world and with
one another. People experience their social environment
through their culture.
Culture is transmitted from generation to generation.
A Definition for Pedagogy
The philosophical framework for our
The lens in which we plan, carry out and
reflect on our teaching.
The art and science of teaching.
What is
Culturally Responsive Teaching?
According to scholar Gloria Ladson Billings, Culturally
Responsive Teaching (CRT) is:
An approach that empowers students
intellectually, socially, emotionally, and
politically by using cultural referents to impact
knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Ph.D.
In her 1994 book The Dreamkeepers, Ladson-Billings, further defined CRT
as possessing these nine principles:
Communication of High Expectations
Active Teaching Methods
Teacher as Facilitator
Inclusion of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students
Cultural Sensitivity
Reshaping the Curriculum
Student-Controlled Classroom Discourse
Small Group Instruction and Academically-Related Discourse
Geneva Gay, Ph.D.
In her 2000 book Culturally Responsive Teaching, Geneva Gay,
defined CRT as teaching that is:
Validating the values, prior experiences, and cultural
knowledge of students
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Builds on what students already know.
Helps students understand there is more than one way of
Encourages students to embrace their culture and develop a love
of learning.
Highlights students’ strengths, and gives them confidence to
confront their weaknesses.
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Gives Teachers…
The opportunity to learn about students’ cultures.
The opportunity to teach students about the behaviors valued in
Ways to keep their teaching exciting -- they vary teaching
approaches based on their learners.
“In our multicultural society, culturally responsive
teaching reflects democracy at its highest level. It
means doing whatever it takes to ensure that every
child is achieving and ever moving toward realizing
their potential.”
--Joyce Taylor-Gibson
To Be A Teacher of CRT, You Need To:
Be willing to reexamine your teaching pedagogy and make it
relevant to your students.
Be someone who deeply cares about your students.
Be a student-centered teacher, which means taking an interest in
your students’ community and making positive contact with
their parents.
Be willing to learn about cultures other than your own.
What are some of the cultures and
languages represented in your
schools and classrooms?
What some of the cultures and
languages your students will
encounter in their educational
Workshop Activity # 1:
Brainstorm about how you might apply some
principles of CRT to improve the cultural
responsiveness of your school, classroom or
teacher education program
10 minute individual exercise
What Are the Characteristics of a
Culturally Responsive School
Culturally Responsive School
Use the culture and experiences of Latino, African American, Asian
American, Native American, and White Americans not part of mainstream
culture as a scaffold to learning (Gay, 2004).
Use instruction that involves matching the knowledge of particular groups
with the learning environment.
Embraces a strength-based perspective.
Knows that failure of any children is not an option.
Creates an environment that reflects cultural and linguistic diversity.
Enacts instruction through different learning styles.
Building a Culturally Responsive
Environment requires…
Dialogues on race/ethnicity and culture
Caring (Noddings, 1986; Valenzuela, 1999)
Analyzing school climate – who feels comfortable and safe? Who
feels uncomfortable and unsafe?
Continuously analyzing student achievement data
Professional Development on learning styles
Why is a Culturally Responsive Environment
Important in Educational Settings?
Schooling process operates on cultural nuances (e.g., agriculture
calendar, giving teacher an apple, speaking up in class, calling teacher
by last name).
Culture of “others” has historically not been acknowledged in the
schooling process and resulted in differential outcomes (Banks,
1987, 2001; Delpit, 1993; Sleeter, 1987).
A Place to Begin…
 Get to know the research
 Be honest about where you are as a school or organization
 Let the research inform your decision-making process
 Implement realistic (time-bound, measurable goals)
 Follow-up and follow through with professional
development and periodic assessment
Workshop Activity # 2:
Assess if your school environment is
culturally responsive
20 minute small group exercise & Discussion
What are the implications for your school or
organization to create a culturally responsive
school environment?
“The increasing diversity in our schools, the ongoing
demographic changes across the nation and the
movement toward globalization dictate that we
develop a more in-depth understanding of culture
if we want to bring about true understanding
among diverse populations.”
-Maria Wilson-Portunando
Banks, J. A. (1987, 2001) Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society. New York:
Teachers College Press.
Delpit, L. (1993). The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating
Other People's Children" in Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race, and Gender in United
States Schools (L.Weis, M.Fine, eds).
Gay, G. (2000). Culturally Responsive Teaching : Theory, Research, and Practice
(Multicultural Education Series, No. 8). New York: Teachers College Press.
Grant, C. A., & Sleeter, C. E. (1987). Who determines teacher work? The debate
continues. Teaching & Teacher Education, 3(1), 61-64.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). The Dreamkeepers : Successful Teachers of African
American Children. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Noddings, N. (1986). Caring - a Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education.
USA: University of California Press.
Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of
caring. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

The Principles & Power of Culturally Relevant Teaching