Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Rochester City School District
Discussions about race, culture, and poverty can be difficult for new teachers. After all, they remain difficult for many of the most seasoned veterans. More than ever, teaching in an urban district demands “courageous conversations” on sensitive topics if we are to best serve our students. In Rochester, 89.8% of our students are students of color, and 79.3% are eligible for free/reduced lunch. Our students speak 87 different languages and many have limited English proficiency. The socio-economic profile of our teacher corps is quite different. Research shows the importance of acknowledging and addressing this “culture gap” in order for us to most effectively engage our kids.
We encourage you to explore these issues with your interns by encouraging them to strengthen their cultural competence:
Cultural competence is the ability to successfully teach students who come from cultures other than our own. It entails developing certain personal and inter-personal awareness and sensitivities, developing certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that, taken together, underlie effective cross-cultural teaching. (Diller, J.V. and Moule, J., 2005)
The RCSD provides many opportunities to build this cultural competence through discussions about culturally responsive teaching, defined as “using the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively” (Geneva Gay, 2000).
Our district offers excellent resources and opportunities to engage in this work with your interns:
Rochester Teacher Center: http://www.rochesterteachercenter.org/
RCSD Department of African American Studies: https://www.rcsdk12.org/Domain/35
RCSD Social Studies Department Black Lives Matter at School page:
RCSD Black Lives Matter At School: https://blacklivesmatteratschool.org
RCSD Roc Restorative: https://www.rcsdk12.org/rocrestorative
RCSD Department of English Language Learners: https://www.rcsdk12.org/Page/302
RCSD Native American Resource Center: https://www.rcsdk12.org/Page/545
RCSD Office of Professional Learning: https://www.rcsdk12.org/professionallearning
RCSD Department of Multilingual Education: https://www.rcsdk12.org/dome
CIT offers our own training aimed at helping Mentors and Interns strengthen their Culturally Responsive Teaching practices: CRT and the Brain Workshops
Some valuable on-line materials can be found at:
Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance): www.learningforjustice.org
New York State Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Framework: www.nysed.gov/crs/framework
Facing History & Ourselves: www.facinghistory.org/
Implicit Bias Test: implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
Some resources we have used as part of our Mentor discussions:
Common Beliefs Survey
NEA Policy Brief on Cultural Competence
Culturally Responsive Teaching MattersYou might consider a CIT Action Research project or CIT Collegial Circle to go deeper into these issues.
Contact Stefan about book circles and other opportunities.