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Culturally Responsive Teaching

My Journey
My name is Laurian and I am currently a fourth grade teacher at an elementary school in the south Bronx. Knowing my students ELA and Mathematics scores from the previous school year, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I had my plans ready as far as which day and periods would be for group remediation, and my guided reading groups decided. I was ready to go with no interruption until at least November, but its not a perfect world and I knew it was wishful thinking. Heres my story of how I became a part of the culturally responsive spotlight and what I walked away with. It all started on that chaotic day when my principal place a schedule for a workshop at Teachers College that she signed me up for along with another coworker in my mail box. I went to her to get some information about the workshop. I was told that its once a month for ten months, and that it was about phase I and II and that was it. I was a little apprehensive and excited at the same time. Apprehensive because I couldnt see myself being out of the classroom and away from my students once a month for the entire school year. Excited because as often as I hear the words phase I and II, I was still unclear as to what it was and what it meant for my students and me as an educator. My principal talked me into attending and I agreed. During the meetings, we spoke about students of all different backgrounds, created case studies and journals of students in our classroom, watched videos that showed what special education was perceived as to parents, students, and educators. We completed activities that we can use in the classroom to get to know our students. We told stories of our students that were eye openers at the time and even more now that we are participating the spot light. We spoke about being a culturally responsive teacher is not focusing only on the students who were not born in the United States, but on all the students within the classroom. Now I have a different perspective of what being a culturally responsive teacher is all about. Knowing their culture is the beginning. I know now that its not just about their culture base on where they were born; its about knowing my students as individuals. What makes them comfortable, what makes them go into a shell, what makes them smile, having conversations with them, knowing that sometimes they do need their space to calm down and think, knowing that my words may not always be clear to them, knowing that they all learn differently. I realize even more so now that referring students for special education is not always the answer and should not be the first answer.

How did I get here?

Where I am now