Monday, August 8, 2016

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond

My people, has there ever been a time when you knew something with your whole heart? You tested it, and tried it, and you knew that it worked. However, when you talked about it with people, it sounded like emotional talk, so you just kept it to yourself.

Well, this books confirms what I know to be true. All children, but especially culturally and linguistically diverse students need a little bit more than just the curriculum when it comes to learning. I know that many people, because I am one of those people, who need to be prepped for what I am about to be taught, I need time to process, I need time to share the ideas with others, and then I need to reinforce the ideas with practice. These are the things that Zaretta speaks about in this book, and she has brain research to back it up.

Zaretta gives a definition of culture and it’s not about race, but it's about what people do: “Culture, it turns out, is the way that every brain makes sense of the world. That is why everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, has a culture.”

She also goes into how we have a system that causes some students to be dependent learners, but we can help them to be independent thinkers by using brain research to inform our teaching. For some folks this is going seem like so much, but If we would think about how we treat people who visit our homes: we make them feel welcome, we talk and listen, we cater to their needs etc. right? Well, that’s sort of how we should treat our students; we must go the extra mile to make students, especially those who have been systematically marginalized, feel like they belong and that they can learn.

Zaretta is challenging people who work with children to do the “inside-out work required: developing the right mindset, engaging in self-reflection, checking our implicit biases, practicing social emotional awareness, and holding an inquiry stance regarding the impact of our interactions on students.” And, she offers suggestions on how to do this.

This is a well-written, easy read with suggestions that can be implemented in a classroom right away. Also, each chapter has discussions questions and a list of books that can be read if you want to know more about the particular topics discussed in that chapter.

I totally believe in the ideas presented in this book, because I have tried them, tested them, and they work.  Reading this book, I saw many areas where I need to improve in order to reach more students. Have no doubt about it, I will be reading this book over and over again, taking notes, discussing the ideas, and implementing many more of the ideas in my own classroom.

If you work with just one or many students who are culturally and linguistically diverse, READ THIS BOOK!

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