Culturally Responsive Teaching for a Multicultural World

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally responsive teaching, also known as culturally responsive teaching, is a field of education theory that has grown in popularity and importance over the last several decades. Culturally Responsive Teaching focuses on how teachers can tailor their instruction to better serve students from diverse backgrounds, especially those who are members of minority groups or come from impoverished homes. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your students all have the same values because they all come from similar backgrounds. But this isn’t necessarily true—even if your students are all coming from privileged ones. 

You may assume that everyone values things like hard work and perseverance because you see these things in your students every day. But not everyone shares those values; some cultures place more importance on family relationships than others, for example. To help you understand what culturally responsive teaching is and how to implement it in your classroom, we’ve created this guide with everything you need to know about creating a successful class dynamic and achieving effective culturally responsive teaching techniques.


What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?


Culturally responsive teaching is a teaching philosophy that aims to make instruction and assessment more effective for students who come from diverse backgrounds. It’s important to understand that diversity here refers to any of the multitudes of differences that people have, whether they be religious, racial, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, or any other kind of difference. Culturally responsive teaching is not just a nice way to say, “I’m going to be more inclusive.” It’s an approach to teaching that takes into account the orientation and experience of students in the classroom. 

When you’re culturally responsive as a teacher, you’re actively looking for ways to make your students feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom. You’re also looking for opportunities to engage them in the learning process while also respecting their backgrounds and identity.


Why is Culturally Responsive Teaching Important?


Culturally responsive teaching is important because it allows teachers to tailor their instruction toward the specific needs of their students. When you’re culturally responsive, you’re not just making the classroom more inclusive—you’re making it more effective. A classroom that’s culturally responsive to its students is a classroom with students who feel welcome and comfortable. Students who feel comfortable are more engaged and better able to retain and benefit from the instruction. 

Beyond that, culturally responsive teaching also cultivates a better understanding of diversity and cultural sensitivity in students. Engaging students from a wide range of backgrounds also exposes them to different ways of thinking and problem-solving. This is especially vital at a time when there are increasing tensions between different groups in our society.


Basics of Culturally Responsive Teaching


When you’re culturally responsive, you’re looking out for ways to make your instruction more inclusive towards your students. Every student deserves to feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom environment. But in order to do this, you need to understand the differences between your students and those of the average classroom. This can be anything from a linguistic difference between your students and your native language to a religious difference between your students and your beliefs. 

This is where cultural identity comes into play. Cultural identity refers to the way in which a person identifies themselves. Cultural identity isn’t just about ethnicity, though that is a major part of it. Cultural identity can also include things like age, socioeconomic status, gender identity, religious affiliation, and a host of other things. When you’re culturally responsive, you’re keeping an eye out for any of these differences in your students.


Classroom Strategies and Activities for CRC


  • Laying a foundation for instruction - When you’re culturally responsive, you want to establish a foundation for your instruction that’s inclusive of your students’ cultural identities. You want to be sure that your instruction is relevant to your students rather than just information out of a textbook. There are a couple of ways to do this: 
  • Getting to know your students - The best way to make sure that your instruction is relevant to your students is to get to know them. Getting to know your students will help you understand the various differences between them and the average classroom. This can include things like assessing their knowledge of the subject matter, learning about their home lives, and asking them about their cultural background. 
  • Establishing rules and guidelines - In order to make your classroom a safe and inclusive space, you need to establish rules and guidelines. This can include things like creating a classroom culture where students feel comfortable expressing their differences, setting expectations for behavior, and creating an environment where students feel free to ask questions.
  • Making connections between the material and real-world contexts - Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be equally interested in every subject. But when you’re culturally responsive, you can make connections between the material and real-world contexts that will make it more relatable and relevant to your students. You can also make the classroom more engaging by playing games, creating group projects, or holding regular discussions.


Using Celebrations to Teach About Culture


Celebrations are interesting phenomena—they’re not necessary, but they are often done anyway. They’re great teaching tools that can help you learn more about the cultures you’re teaching. You can use celebrations to learn about a variety of cultures, but here are a few ideas to get you started. - Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos - Halloween is a popular celebration that has many different cultural origins. It’s a fun way to learn about a variety of cultures, especially those of people who aren’t often thought of, like Latinx people. 

Dia de Los Muertos is a similar holiday that celebrates loved ones who have passed on. Celebrating both holidays in the classroom can help students learn about the origins of Halloween and about the Latinx people in their lives. - Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year is a celebration that helps mark the new year in Chinese culture. Many Chinese people celebrate it by cleaning their houses, paying off debts, and looking back on the past year. It’s a great way to learn about Chinese culture, especially as it pertains to debts and societal obligations.


Create safe spaces for exploration and expression


As a culturally responsive teacher, you want your students to feel safe exploring their own cultural identities. This can include things like creating safe and inclusive spaces in your classroom where students can explore the role their identities play in their learning. You can also create safe spaces where students can express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas about sensitive subjects like race, gender, and sexuality. 

You want your classroom to be a place where students feel free to express themselves and explore the topics and issues that are important to them. While you don’t want your classroom to become a free-for-all, you do want it to be a place where students feel safe expressing themselves and asking sensitive questions.


Celebrate and learn from your students’ diverse backgrounds


As a culturally responsive teacher, you also want to celebrate your students’ diverse backgrounds. You can do this by recognizing the cultural differences between your students and the average classroom. This can include things like making sure you’re using inclusive language, celebrating holidays and important dates, and inviting guest speakers to observe and share with your classroom. 

You can also learn from your students’ backgrounds by asking them to share information about their culture with the class. This can include things like asking students to share their opinions on current events, telling their stories, and sharing their reactions to readings or films. You can also encourage students to share their backgrounds with each other so that everyone knows who’s in the classroom with them.




As a culturally responsive teacher, you want to make sure that all of your students feel comfortable and engaged in the classroom, regardless of their cultural identity. You can do this by getting to know your students and the differences between their backgrounds and the average classroom. You can also use celebration as a teaching tool to learn about the diverse backgrounds of your students. Visit to learn more about how you can create safe spaces for your students to explore their differences and feel included in the classroom.