Culturally Responsive Teaching With Social Emotional Learning

This summer I will be focusing on the 3rd Standard of the ISTE Coaching standard sets. This standard is a large one! Coaching relationships, partnering with educators in digital learning content and evaluating, and also personalizing and modeling coaching is all part of this standard focused on collaboration. Here is the full standard: ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator I chose to start off by researching more about cultural relevance. My school has been completing targeted professional development to help work on the climate and culture of our district. Much of this training is surrounding social emotional learning (SEL). I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the neuroscience behind why SEL is important, along with learning more strategies that I am eager to try out this upcoming year. One piece that I would love to prioritize with my SEL teaching is the huge amount of overlap between social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching and learning. Due to this, I chose to focus my research and learning on this guiding question:  How is culturally responsive teaching and learning linked with social emotional learning, and what can educators do to focus on this connection to begin the school year? I chose this question because with the school closures at the end of the year, educators worldwide have become more and more aware of all of the potential traumas that students will be coming back to school having experienced. Whether it be civil rights related, health related, or food-insecurity related, our students will be in need of focused SEL instruction. However, the more research I did on this topic, the more I came to understand that we cannot be fully engaging our students in that instruction if we are not also paying attention to culturally responsive teaching.  The first article that I spent time delving into was titled “Making SEL Culturally Competent”. Authors Seider and Graves speak to the importance of students not only learning about strategies such as growth mindset to help increase resilience, but also to gain critical consciousness as a way to demonstrate higher levels of resiliency in historically marginalized youth. They go on to offer a framework focused on “the Three I’s”; interpersonal, institutional, and internalized in nature. The last two aspects of culturally responsive teaching highlighted in this article are to “Look for real-world change” and “challenge injustices”.  The Three I’s: In a 9th grade classroom, students learn about the differences between interpersonal, institutional, and internalized “isms” (for example, teaching about microaggressions) and then they collaborate to identify forms of potential oppression in their schools/neighborhoods/communities. Look For Real World Change: By having students connect their learning to actual injustices that are being faced, they can have a sense of social justice and come to learn that they have the power to make real change. For example, a class learning about colonization in the Americas extended their learning to current day by writing letters about their thoughts on Puerto Rico and their relationship with the US.  Challenge Injustice: Students learn about injustices and the power that they have to be able to address and fix injustices. A class of high schoolers worked together to challenge outdated policies in their student handbook that they felt were not fair. They brainstormed, they put together new proposals, and they worked through potential implementation issues.  While having students understand the great potential for resiliency and determination when shifting your mindset to one focused on growth, it is still vital for students to also understand critical consciousness.   So what should we do now? Early Childhood:  Increase the diversity of books that you have in your classroom. We Need Diverse Books is a fantastic resource for educators (and parents) to learn more about adding diverse books into schools. You can find some great articles from them here. Also, here is an amazing instagram account @diversereads created by a teacher who posts some amazing book ideas for all ages Increase the amount of opportunities students can “see themselves” in your classroom. Whether this is by increasing the diversity of music you play, the languages in which you welcome the class, or the types of designs or posters you have in your room. The key is to have student be able to relate to your class There is a great article from edutopia titled “Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education” that has some awesome ideas! K-12: Become aware of cultural differences in greeting and interaction, teach these differences along with acknowledging the merit and correctness of them, along with ones that are are considered appropriate in your classroom Survey students/families on their traditions and educate yourself about those traditions Dr. Anne Snyder and Claire Cook speak to the importance of not only teaching one social skill or strategy as the only “correct” method while working through SEL instruction. They bring up the idea that educators often model a strong handshake and eye contact as the correct way to say hello or greet someone. While this is a great way to greet some students, other students may have cultural differences that this method contradicts. Read more about their thinking in their article, “Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning”. Intermediate:  Teach students that questioning policies that seem to not include, or put-down, certain groups of students is alright. Make sure to create a safe place for students to do this Encourage students to search for things to empower them and demonstrate their power to create positive change Allow for time and space for students to share about themselves in class (culture projects, family presentations, etc.) What do you do in your classrooms to encourage students to gain critical consciousness? What culturally responsive teaching and learning have you witnessed or tried? I would love to hear in the comments! References Armstrong, A. (2020, June 25). Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education. Edutopia. B, C. (2019, November 16). The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. Here Wee Read. ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (2020). ISTE. Seider, S. (2020, January 9). Making SEL Culturally Competent. Edutopia. Snyder, A., & Cook, C. (2018, November 9). Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Medium.

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