With the district work focusing on cultural responsiveness and Dr. Hollie returning to RPS to work with teaching staff on being culturally responsive, C&I has started receiving questions more frequently about being a culturally responsive teacher, in addition to requests to help teachers implement these practices into their classroom. These recent requests have prompted the sharing of these discussions with a district wide audience.
-Definition of Culturally Responsive Teaching-
As C&I staff talk with teachers about culturally responsive teaching, it is important to ensure we share a common definition. The commonly excepted definition comes from Gloria Ladson-Billings, pedagogical theorist and teacher educator at UW Madison. Gloria states that “Culturally responsive teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning”.
-What It Is And What It Is Not-
The next thing C&I staff look at with a teacher is examining what culturally responsive teaching IS and what it IS NOT. According to Zaretta Hammond, author of the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain, it is not about “motivating students of color by mentioning cultural facts or naming famous people of color.” It is also not “teachers rapping their content…or...doing a call and response at the beginning of a lesson to get kids excited.” It is also not just about “motivating disengaged students’.” It is about “helping culturally and linguistically diverse students who have been marginalized in schools build their skill & capacity to do rigorous work.”
-Characteristics Of Culturally Responsive Teaching-
Finally, C&I staff have been working with teachers to identify what can be done in the classroom to foster an environment of cultural responsiveness.
This is the basic outline of the discussions that have been taking place with teachers across the district as we all continue our journey of becoming more culturally responsive. Hopefully, these resources make a terrific springboard to help make lessons more culturally responsive.
This post brought to you by Rebecca Mecikalski, Elementary Implementation Associate
The Cleveland Indians finished a historic 22 game run in August and September. I’m not a big baseball fan and I generally avoid hearing anything about the Cleveland Indians; however, since their World Series appearance last fall avoiding it is becoming increasingly harder to do.
When thinking about what one teaches students, it is fundamental that students are taught that Rochester, Southeast Minnesota, the entire state, and the entire continent once belonged to hundreds of thriving societies. This nation wasn’t just empty space that was stumbled upon and inhabited with no impact to anyone.
Even more important to acknowledge is that today these societies are made up of 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States (there are additional tribes that are not federally recognized or that have lost their federal status). Plus, there are also the indigenous people of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Samoa to consider. Within the state of Minnesota there are eleven federally recognized tribes: these tribal nations are representative of two different nations of people. Seven of the tribal nations are of Ojibwe or Anishinabe people. The other four tribal nations are Dakota: these Dakota people made their way back to their ancestral lands after being outlawed, murdered, and forcibly removed from Minnesota a century earlier. Some students may not even realize that the word Minnesota (Mini –Sota) means “land where the water reflects the sky”—a Dakota phrase that pre-dates the country of America.
In Rochester Public Schools we have approximately 150 Native American students. These students are on a continuum from full blood Native to second generation descendants. The families that make up these 150 students are from 37 different Native Nations. Our students’ collective knowledge about their home communities and their people vary as much as their blood quantum and tribal nation diversity. What is constant is that they all identify as being Native American.
What does this mean for our Native American students? Statistically, it means that only 49% are likely to graduate high school in four years. It also means these students will struggle with academics, violence, and legal issues.
The academic numbers here are largely representative of the rest of the state.
If you want more information on this topic, or to understand this topic further, please contact me or attend the “Not Your Mascot” session during the district wide, October 5th professional development day.
During the Back-to-School staff development days, the vast majority of our elementary and secondary math teachers attended a training on the 8 research-based mathematics instructional practices from NCTM. Participants had amazing conversations about how to make math learning more powerful for all of our students. The million dollar question now is… NOW WHAT? How does this impact my classroom?
It can be daunting to make sweeping changes to your instruction all at one time. Don’t let that deter you – just start somewhere. Here are some first steps you might try!
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Get to know your students as math learners
Pose some questions and ask students to discuss, write, or even draw a picture about their answers…
| 2 |
Establish positive norms for your classroom and revisit them often
Communicate ideas such as those suggested by Jo Boaler in Mathematics Mindsets:
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As you begin to plan lessons, try to enhance the use of the 8 instructional practices.
Even small changes can have a great impact. As one math teacher shared in the August training, “I started by just having kids talk more and explain their thinking…and it made all the difference!”
Here are a some things to consider (again, from Jo Boaler, Mathematics Mindsets):
Finally, don't forget to give yourself and your students time to grow into these new practices!
This post brought to you by Carol Lucido, the K-8 District Math Coordinator
Every new school year brings about excitement, anticipation, and worry for our students and families. The first day of school this year was no different. Rochester students filled the halls of our many classrooms and were greeted by their friends and school staff. When we think about the first day of school, many of us think about how exciting a new year will be. We often think about our hopes and dreams. We start to plan on how we want our students to make great gains academically and create lasting relationships with their peers and teachers.
However, for many of our students and their families, the first day of school brings about anxiety, fear and uncertainty for what a new school year will bring. When our students leave us in the spring for a fun filled summer, often times they go home to uncertain circumstances. Family situations can change and unexpected life events occur which can create hidden challenges for our students. As we get to know our students and families each year it can take weeks and even months to understand the complicated lives of our students and the impact it is having on them every day at school.
This year the staff at Bishop Elementary School piloted a new way to start the school year in an effort to not only meet the social/emotional needs but the academic needs of their students. Rather than holding a large Meet the Teacher event in the school, Bishop teachers, after a year of research and planning, held conferences on the first two days of school. Each family was given a 30 minute conference time with their classroom teacher. Generally, the first part of that conference was an opportunity for families to share meaningful information with the teacher about their dreams for the child in the coming year. After gaining information from the parents, the teacher was able to meet one-on-one in the quiet of the room to assess the student academically. Fast forward to the first day of school and our teachers had more of the information they needed to start the year.
They now know the challenges and joys that the children face at home, they hold a clearer picture of who the child is academically and they have already started the important journey of forming a relationship with the family and student.
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, Elementary Principal on Special Assignment
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