Culturally Relevant Teaching Part 2 – High Expectations

November 13, 2007 at 9:08 pm | Posted in best practices, culturally relevant teaching, education, elementary, graphic organizers, strategies, teachers, thinking maps, writing | 3 Comments

My previous post explores some of the philosophy behind Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT), or the whys.  This post, I want to explore some of the hows.  That really is what we need.

If you are reading Part 2 of my posts, then I assume that I am preaching to the choir.  You already intuitively know why CRT is a good thing and you want to do it.  So how do we go about integrating CRT into our daily instruction to maximize student learning?

High Expectation – from Can’t to the Absolutely Can

Do you have high expectation of your diverse students?  Do you really believe that everyone can learn and succeed?  OR Do you answer, “Yes, but ______.”  If you qualify your answer with “but” then you do NOT have high expectations for your diverse students.  You can stop reading this post right now and go pick up some books with researches that prove again and again that ALL students can learn, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, parental involvement, whatever.  Until you believe absolutely that all of your students can learn, can be the A student, then nothing that you read or try will help your students any.  I don’t know how else to put it.  The anonymity of the internet blog allows me to write this, “If you don’t have high expectations for all your students, then you SUCK as a teacher compared to what you can truly do.”  (I just know I’m about to get another slew of e-mails attacking me. *ducks*)

What does high expectation look like in the classroom setting?  Here is another real life example from my school.

All teachers are trained to use Thinking Maps, targeted graphic organizers.  In particular, all teachers are trained to use these graphic organizers along with sentence frames to help students communicate orally and in writing.  All teachers.  I took a walk with many other teachers, just to see examples of writing in the classrooms, as part of our professional development.  With one exception, all first grade teachers had their students copy teacher created writing samples from the board.  By this I mean in all subject areas, in all topics, just all writing samples were teacher created, student copied.  These teachers expected that their students can not write and so do not even give them the opportunity to try.  The one exception is a first year teacher who doesn’t have that low expectation.  In fact, she has high expectation.  She expects her students to write coherently and she gave them the support they need to do so.  She gave them the sentence frames, without filling it in for them.  She gave them Thinking Maps from which they can pull words and ideas.  She lets them go at it.  Some students made mistakes and she helped correct the mistakes without taking over the students’ writings.  High expectation.

Having high expectation is probably the most difficult part of being culturally responsive, because it’s just so easy to blame the students for failure, and so hard to say, maybe I’m not teaching very well.

If you answer with an unqualified yes, then let’s move on to other, easier strategies for integrating culturally relevant teaching.

Part 3 – We Communicate Differently – Coming soon to a blog near you!

Our dominant, white culture communicates very differently from the cultures of our diverse students.  Visit my post on how we organize our communication differently.  Next post will go more in depth into this and how to utilize this difference in the classroom.

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  1. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptCulturally Relevant Teaching Part 2 – High Expectations November 13, 2007 at 9:08 pm | In best practices, culturally relevant teaching, education, elementary, graphic organizers, strategies, teachers, thinking maps, writing […]

  2. I have found your blog entry to be exceptional in pointing out that expectations dictate where we take our students. As I work on contributing to the rewrite of a BluePrint for Closing the Achievement Gap for Local District 5, I stumbled upon your blog a second time (last time, I found your blog through Room 36 Blog). I hope you don’t mind my sharing your blog in the December post of my monthly newsletter at http://ld5technews.blogspot.com Let me know if you have reservations.

  3. Btw, I just read a big chunk of your blog and it’s rather resourceful. Makes me think of what I need to do in my own classroom. Hmmm …


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