Cultural Responsive Pedagogy: Transforming Learning

This week as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 class, we were asked to investigate the following ISTE Educator Standards:

ISTE 3-Citizen: Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

ISTE 6- Facilitator:Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.

While researching these standards I decided to focus my attention on Culturally Responsive Teaching and learn how to transform my mindset to be more responsive in the classroom. This blog post will serve as a way for me to demonstrate my learning and share the research I have found on how to become a responsive teacher as well as address the following standard indicators within my program:

3b: Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

6d: Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

How is it different than multiculturalism?

Many people (myself included) have confused Cultural Responsive Teaching with multiculturalism. While multiculturalism is important element to bring into the classroom, here are the main differences between the two:

Zaretta Hammond: Dimensions of Equity

Zaretta Hammond explains that the purpose of Culturally Responsive Teaching is, “to help traditionally marginalized and under-served students become empowered, independent learners. ” She also suggests beginning with the responsive part of the pedagogy and try “building rapport, getting to know students as people.” To do this you must “first humanize your interactions with diverse students who are struggling or feel like school is a hostile place.” (Hammond, 2018)

Where to begin?

One place to begin is to look at your current classroom structure. Zaretta Hammond has created an observation guide with thought provoking questions to help scaffold you in the right direction.

Hammond: A Quick and Easy School Visit Observation Guide

Another way to begin is to consider how you are already incorporating this pedagogy into your teaching already? Geneva Gay has created a leveled chart to help you determine where you are first starting out:

Level 0

  • No culturally or linguistically relevant materials were included in my class.

Level 1: Contributions Approach

Heroes, holidays, historical events, & discrete cultural elements are incorporated into class lessons.

  • I linguistically code switch to establish rapport.
  • I linguistically code switch, as needed, to facilitate understanding.
  • I include major figures, contributors, or historical events from cultures other than the dominant culture into the lesson.
  • I include cultural or artistic works (literature, music, visual and performing arts/artists) from cultures other than the dominant culture into the lesson.
  • I include research contributions from cultures other than the dominant cultures into my lessons.

Level 2: Additive Approach

Multicultural content, concepts, themes are incorporated to the lesson from multi-cultural students’ perspectives.

  • I include resources and texts that (e.g., reading, film, etc.) present multicultural perspectives in the lesson.
  • I include lectures/discussions that present multi-cultural perspectives my lessons.
  • I teach a unit that presents multi-cultural perspectives into my curricula.

Level 3: Transformation Approach

The structure of the curriculum enables students to view concepts, issues, events & themes from the perspectives of diverse ethnic, racial, & cultural groups.

  • I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view concepts, issues, themes and problems from several multi-cultural perspectives.
  • I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view class concepts being studied from multiple perspectives, frames of references from various groups and various individuals within those groups.
  • I infuse multiple perspectives, frames of references, and content from various groups and perspectives to extend students’ understandings of the nature, development, and complexity of the society in which they live.
  • I introduce the “canons” of my discipline and augment them to reflect the complex synthesis and interaction of the diverse racial/ethnic/religious/cultural elements that comprise our society.

Level 4: Social Action Approach

Students make decisions on important social issues & take action to help solve them.

  • My teaching encourages students to identify existing social problems or issues from multi-cultural perspectives.
  • My lessons and assignments encourage students to gather pertinent data from multicultural perspectives on existing social problems or issues.
  • My teaching encourages students to clarify their values and make decisions about existing social problems using multi-cultural perspectives.
  • My teaching encourages students to take reflective actions to help resolve social problems.

Is there a Framework?

Yes! Zaretta Hammond created a framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching:

Hammond: Ready for Rigor

My Takeaways

Through my research I learned about what Cultural Responsive Teaching is, how it differs from multiculturalism, and ways I can begin recognizing how responsive I am in the classroom. I also found many great resources and strategies to try in the classroom such as:

  • “Building Authentic Relationships”
  • ” Using the brain’s memory systems for deeper learning” ( Connecting new content through music, movement, and visuals strengthens the neural pathways for comprehension )
  • ” Acknowledging diverse students’ stress response from everyday micro-aggressions”
  • ” Using ritual, recitation, repetition, and rhythm as content processing power tools. “
  • ” Creating a community of learners by building on students’ values of collaboration and connection”


Hammond, Zaretta. (2018, February 7). Culturally Responsive Teaching: It Begins with Responsiveness.
Retrieved from

Hammond, Zaretta. (2017). Dimensions of Equity. Retrieved from

Hammond, Zaretta. (2013). Ready for Rigor: A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching. Retrieved

Hammond, Zaretta. (2013). A Quick and Easy School Visit Observation Guide. Retrieved from

Hammond, Zaretta. (2013). Five Key Culturally Responsive Teaching Moves. Retrieved from

Re-Imagining Migration. (2019). Culturally Responsive Teaching Checklist. Retrieved from

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