Cultural responsiveness is an element of education that educators have been working toward since the Civil Rights Movement. Recent attention to culturally responsive pedagogy has risen as more and more students extend the global characteristics of classrooms. Students from Pakistan, Indonesia, and Ecuador join Nigerian, Latino, Romanian, and Russian students—all newcomers.
Geneva Gay (2000) believes that when students can connect with symbols and aspects of their own cultures, including perspectives and beliefs, their voices gain traction, and the students feel validated. Validation leads to participation, which leads to engagement and learning.
Literacy acquisition is obviously a key step toward success for every immigrating student. Honoring a student’s native tongue does not require that teachers learn how to speak the languages of all of their students, but there are many ways to infuse a classroom with the rich variety of key words, such as “welcome.” The four-minute video below provides an overview of cultural responsiveness that includes examples and remarks by Geneva Gay, Kris Gutierrez, and Jackie Jordan Irvine, who have all studied and written about the ways in which cultural responsiveness can work in a meaningful way.