Culture in the Classroom

Culturally Responsive Teaching

A cultural mismatch exists in schools for students who are not a part of Euro-American culture.¹ Many schools operate on the premise that a single method of teaching may be ideal and effective for diverse student bodies. This approach fails to acknowledge the numerous backgrounds and experiences that guide different student learning styles.² Given that the U.S. has such a diverse population, it’s almost inevitable that a teacher and their cultural experiences don’t reflect those of their students’. This mismatch has been identified as a contributor to academic failure amongst marginalized groups because of its negative impact on teacher-student relationships. On the contrary, researchers have found that culturally responsive schools produce high-achieving students of all backgrounds.³ Thus, the emergence of culturally responsive teaching (CRT).

Culturally responsive teaching is about creating learning environments that match those of minoritized students' home, community, and cultural environments. It integrates aspects of students' lived experiences into the instruction and organization of the classroom. CRT is about students being able to maintain cultural integrity while achieving academic success. It aims to educate and engage students in a way that they can identify with, which helps to develop a positive sense of belonging to the school community.⁴

Research shows that students who have underrepresented cultural identities don’t feel comfortable, safe, or heard in their learning environments. This lack of equal engagement opportunities was demonstrated in an interview where Black male students expressed that they feel discouraged from participating in their classes.³ Thus highlighting the need for culturally supportive learning environments.

So, how do we implement CRT into learning environments? Researchers have found that when instructors create psychological safe spaces for students, they allow and encourage free cultural expression without judgement. Students are then able to cultivate confidence and self-esteem in both their personal and academic identities.⁵ Cultural appreciation and affirmation is found to be a powerful tool in creating a culturally sensitive learning environment. CRT has been found to enhance student engagement, promote equity by integrating diverse cultural values, stimulate critical thinking, and promote collaborative learning.⁶ Together, these outcomes work to advance student achievement. CRT demonstrates that it’s important as a community of teachers, parents, and students alike to integrate our cultural and lived experiences with our learning because our learning determines our perception of the world.

At GrantEd Tutoring, we integrate students' interests, learning styles, and cultural backgrounds into our lessons as a part of our commitment to implement CRT for the benefit of our students. For more information about how we can personalize learning for your child, book a free intake session today!


  1. Boykin, A. W. (1985). The triple quandary and the schooling of Afro-American children In U Neisser (Ed), The school achievement of minority children (pp 57-92) Hillsdale.

  2. Ashong, C. Y., & Commander, N. E. (2012). Ethnicity, gender, and perceptions of online learning in higher education. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(2), 98–110.

  3. Salvo, S. G., Welch, B., & Shelton, K. (2019). African American MALES Learning Online: Promoting academic achievement in higher education. Online Learning, 23(1).

  4. Ladson-Billings, G. (2008). Yes, but how do we do it?”: Practicing culturally relevant pedagogy. City kids, city schools: More reports from the front row, 162-177.

  5. Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. American Educational Research Association, 32(3).

  6. Yeboah, A. K., Dogbey, J., Yuan, G., & Smith, P. (2020). Cultural Diversity in Online Education: An Exploration of Instructors’ Perceptions and Challenges. Teachers College Record, 122(7).

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