Overview of Culturally Responsive Practices

Site: Colorado Education Learning Management System
Course: High Impact Instructional Strategies for Health Education
Book: Overview of Culturally Responsive Practices
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 2 October 2023, 11:28 AM

1. Introduction

Before diving into the meaningful work of Equitable Instruction and Culturally Responsive Practices, you may find it helpful to establish some foundational understandings and/or expand your current understandings. This section has been created to do just that. Implicit Bias,  Growth Mindset, and Universal Design for Learning are three frameworks that are critically important as it relates to this work. The Culture Tree is a wonderful visual tools to understand the way that culture impacts how we engage with the world around us. 

You might be wondering how providing equitable access to learning as well as including culturally responsive practices is relevant to your health education class or unit. Think of yourself as a coach of a sports team for a moment. Would you want to understand your players' experience with the game, what strengthens they bring to the team, as well as area they need to grow as athletes? Is it likely that you would then craft your practice time and support of individual players with that information in hand so that you can make sure the team can be as successful as possible? Absolutely! Equitable Instruction and Culturally Responsive Practices is no different.

2. Definitions

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list:

  • BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  • Cognitively-Demanding Instruction:  “High cognitive demand tasks involve making connections, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions.” (Smith & Stein, 1998).
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching: An educator's ability to recognize students' cultural displays of learning and meaning making and respond positively and constructively with teaching moves that use cultural knowledge as a scaffold to connect what the student knows to new concepts and content in order to promote effective information processing. 
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding the needs and emotions of your own culture and the culture of others.
  • Cultural Humility: is a life long process of self-reflection and self-critique. Cultural humility does not require mastery of lists of “different” or peculiar beliefs and behaviors supposedly pertaining to different cultures, rather it encourages to develop a respectful attitude toward diverse points of view.
  • Equity: Freedom from bias or favoritism. the quality of being fair or impartial.
  • Fixed Mindset:   
  • Growth Mindset:  
  • Implicit bias: Unconscious attribution of particular qualities by an individual to a member of some social group. An "implicit bias" can also be referred to an "unconscious bias".
  • Instructional equity: Reducing the predictability of who succeeds and who fails, interrupting reproductive practices that negatively impact students, and cultivating the gifts and talents of every student.
  • Latinx: a gender-neutral neologism, sometimes used instead of Latino or Latina to refer to people of Latin American cultural or ethnic identity in the United States.
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.

Reflections on Practice

  1. What is one term or definition above that is new for you?
  2. When you reflect on that new term/definition what thoughts or questions does it stir in you?
  3. Is there a term/definition that makes pushes you a bit outside of your comfort zone?
  4. How do these new terms intersect with health education topics?

3. Implicit Bias

What is Implicit Bias?

Thoughts and feelings are “implicit” if we are unaware of them or mistaken about their nature. We have a bias when, rather than being neutral, we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. Thus, we use the term “implicit bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. Implicit bias is a universal phenomenon, not limited by race, gender, or even country of origin. Implicit bias and unconscious bias are often used interchangeable. 

Peanut Butter and ______.

Reflective Activity for The Peanut Butter and Jelly Video

Let's explore the Peanut Butter and Jelly associations in your own classroom. Look at the list below and write down the first thing that comes to your mind. 

  • Good penmanship 
  • A student blurting out an answer
  • A student raising their hand to answer a question
  • A lack of personal hygiene
  • An overweight student
  • An honor role student that doesn't appear in class one day
  • A failing student that doesn't appear in class one day

Video #2

Reflective Questions for Video #2

  1. Summarize the biases that each character holds.
  2. How did those biases impact the feelings or behaviors of a particular character?
  3. What is one action that a character could have taken that would have challenged their implicit bias?

Exploring Your Biases

To be clear, all people hold implicit/unconscious biases.

An effective way to begin the process of engaging with our implicit biases on a conscious level is to identify those biases. An Implicit Association Test (IAT) can be a helpful way to start the process. Select an Implicit Association Test based on an area you are interested in exploring. 

Warning: This test has been taken more than one million times, and the results usually reveal some degree of bias. Your test results will include interpretations based on research done with more elaborate versions of this test. However, the parties who have contributed to this site make no claim regarding the validity of suggested interpretations. 

To explore the idea of bias in the classroom, check out this blog at https://www.thegraidenetwork.com/blog-all/2018/8/1/teacher-bias-the-elephant-in-the-classroom

Reflective Questions

  1. What were the reasons for selecting and completing the Implicit Association Test that you chose?
  2. Did you answer the questions in the IAT the way you though you should or the way you believe and behave? Or a little bit of both?
  3. What feelings or thoughts did the result of the IAT generate in you?

4. Approaches to Multicultural Curriculum

In the late 90's, James A. Bank began to develop research around what he called "Multicultural Curriculum Reform". The idea of reforming curriculum and instruction to include multiple perspectives was, in Bank's mind, not a binary choice. Rather it is a continuum structured into four approaches.  

The Contributions Approach

This approach reflects the least amount of involvement in multicultural education approaches.  This is incorporated by selecting books and activities that celebrate holidays, heroes, and special events from various cultures.  For example, spending time reading about Dr. Martin Luther King in January is a common practice that falls into this category.  In this approach, culturally diverse books and issues are not specified as part of the curriculum (Banks, 1999).  

The Additive Approach

In this approach content, concepts, themes, and perspectives are added to the curriculum without changing its basic structure.  This involves incorporating literature by and about people from diverse cultures into the mainstream curriculum without changing the curriculum.  For example, examining the perspective of a Native American about Thanksgiving would be adding cultural diversity to the traditional view of Thanksgiving.  Examining different cultural foods during a nutrition unit, or identifying different cultural contributions to health education. 

The Transformation Approach

This approach actually changes the structure of the curriculum and encourages students to view concepts, issues, themes, and problems from several ethnic perspectives and points of view.  For example, a unit on Thanksgiving would become an entire unit exploring cultural conflict.  This type of instruction involves critical thinking and involves a consideration of diversity as a basic premise (Banks, 1999). This transformative  perspective in health education might be examining how culture influences perception and realities regarding violence, relationships, power and control, or conflict resolution. It might examine how communication may differ from a variety of perspectives. 

The Social Action Approach

This approach combines the transformation approach with activities to strive for social change.  Students are not only instructed to understand and question social issues, but to also do something about important about it.  For example, after participating in a unit about recent immigrants to North America, students may write letters to senators, Congress, and newspaper editors to express their opinions about new policies (Banks, 1999). In health education a social action approach could revolve around community safety, violence prevention,  food scarcity (food deserts). Ultimately this social action approach uses advocacy skills to create change. Student centered learning strategies are one way to encourage social action in health education.

Click here to read a bit more about Banks work. 

Reflective Questions

  1. What connects can you make between Banks' work and how  you teach health education?
  2. Think about a health class or unit you are teaching this year.  Do you currently implement any of the four approaches listed above?
  3.  If your answer is "Yes" to Question 2: which of the four approaches are you applying? How did you come the decision to integrate that approach? How does it improve the learning experience for all students?
  4. If you answer is "No" to Question 2: which of the four approaches could you possibly integrate? What resources and supports would you need? How could the addition improve the learning experience for all students?

5. The Culture Tree

Framing the Student-Teacher Relationship around trust and rapport is important. We use culture as a trust builder. Students that don't feel safe, are not willing to risk failure. If students don't take risks, they are unable to grow, academically or personally.

Zaretta Hammond, in her work on culturally responsive teaching, has created a visual called the Culture Tree as a way for us to understand culture. There are three parts or levels of the tree.

Surface Culture

This level is made up of observable and concrete elements of culture such as food, dress, and music. 

Shallow Culture

This level is made up of the unspoken rules around everyday social interactions and norms such as attitudes towards elders, concepts of time, nonverbal communication, and rules about eye contact, or appropriate touching. 

Deep Culture 

This level is made up of tacit knowledge and unconscious assumptions that govern our worldview. It also contains the cosmology that guides ethics, spirituality, health, and theories of group harmony.

Levels of Culture Consideration for Health Education 

Surface Culture

  • This level of culture has a low emotional charge so that changes don't create great anxiety in a person or group.
  • This level is made up of observable and concrete elements of culture such as food, dress, and music. 

  • In health education it is important to consider how these surface elements relate how student analyze influences and perceptions of these observable characteristics of culture.
  • Provide opportunities to explore literature, music, holidays, and talk style from a variety of perspectives. In health education it is important to examine stories and examples that are shared through the lens if these surface cultural differences.
  • Since these aspects of culture have a low emotional charge they are ways to initially engage students in differences.
  • Examples include: · Appearance ideals and how they impact body confidence · Food people eat and impact on health, belonging, tradition
  • Consider using these categories and have students create a piece of art work or representation who they are related to these categories. 

Shallow Culture

  • This level has a strong emotional charge, At the same time, at this level, we interpret certain behaviors as disrespectful, offensive, or hostile. Social violations of norms at this level can cause mistrust, distress, of social friction
  • This level is made up of the unspoken rules around everyday social interactions and norms such as attitudes towards elders, concepts of time, nonverbal communication, and rules about eye contact, or appropriate touching. 

  • These shallow cultural elements have strong emotions associated with them. Many of these shallow levels of culture are directly related to health education, 
  • Eye contact, non verbal communication, personal space,  gestures are all aspects of communication that can  potentially be in conflict when perspectives regarding communication are not taken into account. 
  • These aspects of shallow culture can come in conflict with the norms of the school or classroom and impact students behaviors, potential leading to disciplinary actions.
  • Examples include: · Communication techniques that different people use: different families, cultures, different ages, etc. · How people have different expectations of time- when you show up for something · Differences in personal space while communicating or hanging out · Expectations of honesty, accountability

Deep Culture 

This level is made up of tacit knowledge and unconscious assumptions that govern our worldview. It also contains the cosmology (view of good or bad) that guides ethics, spirituality, health, and theories of group harmony (i.e. competition or cooperation). Deep culture also governs how we learn new information. Elements at this level have an intense emotional charge. Mental models at this level help the brain interpret threats or rewards in the environment. Challenges to cultural values at this level produce culture shock or trigger the brain’s fight, flight, freeze or appease response.

  • How decision are made, spirituality concepts of self, notions of farness and definitions of family are areas that have a close connection to health education. 
  •  Two different cultures can look at the same event and have very different reactions based on their perspective and their deep culture. The world view of a situation can impact decision making and behavior.  
  • Teachers may bring a world view to the classroom that conflicts with the students world view, for this reason it is important to build space in the classroom that allows open dialogue. 
  • Examples include: · How people make decisions about different health choices · Different beliefs about how the world functions · How you see your health and its’ impact on others in the world

Reflective Questions

  1. Identify your own culture whether that is based on ethnicity, race, faith, politics, sexuality, etc.
  2. Now identify one or two Surface, Shallow, and Deep Culture features that you experience.
  3. How does something outside of your cultural group view or experience those same Surface, Shallow, and Deep Culture features?
  4. What judgements or beliefs do those outside of your cultural group hold about those Surface, Shallow, and Deep Culture features?
  5. How might implicit bias play a role in how others, outside of your cultural group, view you?

Classroom Application Questions

  1. How have you recognized/integrated Surface Culture in your teaching?
  2. How have you recognized/integrated Shallow Culture in your teaching?
  3. How have you recognized/integrated Deep Culture in your teaching?