Cultural responsive teaching is a phrase that only exists because there must have been a lack of it in the first place. This reminds me a little bit of the coffee cups at McDonald’s (Not that I go there at all now but did once upon a time). The coffee cups now say something like “Caution, hot beverage”. There was a lawsuit that a patron sued McDonald’s because they burnt themselves while drinking a cup of hot coffee they ordered at a store. Because, at the time, the cups did not say “caution, hot coffee”, the patron did not realize that the hot coffee that they ordered was, in fact, hot. This fact was argued that yes, hot coffee is hot and that should be a given. But now, McDonald’s has to label their coffee as hot and to take caution when drinking and may cause a burn.
When the words culturally responsive teaching are said, to me it should be a given that a teacher should already be teaching in a culturally responsive manner and it does not need a prompt on the side of a teaching cup. I do understand, however, that there are unfortunately many teachers that do not teach about culture or in a responsible or responsive manner. Because of this, we must now label the teacher cup with a reminder that teaching in a culturally responsive way is important to students of all backgrounds.
In the MAT program at UAS so far we have been extremely lucky to have some great speakers and guests along with location learning to underscore the importance of culturally responsive teaching. This, along with the project based learning that is being modeled in the MAT classes is so powerful and helpful to us as students learning different methods to teach. The elders, culture camp, guest teachers, and science and math projects are much more concrete and real to learners which make the material and lessons really stick.
As a teacher of art and biology, I plan on including the Tlingit language into my lessons. I also plan on including other students, teachers, and guests into my lessons to broaden the culture base and breadth of knowledge and support. I believed that teaching a single subject is too isolated and in fact there are many subjects and disciplines that intertwine in real life. If a student can’t easily see how what they learn in school can be applied to real life, then that piece of information or project will be lost in the cracks and folds of the brain. I also think that this combined type of teaching and learning should be a given and come naturally. There should not have to be a reminder to teachers to teach in the most comprehensive, holistic and effective way.
Caution, educators are educating in a culturally responsive manner.