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Culturally responsive pedagogies can reduce the gaps between the highest and lowest achievers while at the same time raising overall levels of achievement.
Culturally responsive teaching is about making school learning relevant and effective for learners by drawing on students’ cultural knowledge, life experiences, frames of reference, languages, and performance and communication styles. This means making what students know, and how they know it, the foundation of learning and teaching interactions and curriculum. This is good for all students, but particularly so when there are significant differences between the world of the teacher and the world of the child.
Culturally responsive teaching recognises and deeply values the richness of the cultural knowledge and skills that students bring to the classroom as a resource for developing multiple perspectives and ways of knowing. Teachers communicate, validate and collaborate with students to build new learning from students’ specific knowledge and experience.
Culturally responsive pedagogies can reduce the gaps between the highest and lowest achievers while at the same time raising overall levels of achievement. Culturally responsive pedagogies raise student achievement for all cultural groups, ensuring that all students are given the encouragement and support to realise their educational potential regardless of their social, economic or cultural background or individual needs.
While student diversity is increasing, there is a general lack of diversity amongst New Zealand’s teachers. Cultural gaps between students and teachers, when left unaddressed, can lead to misunderstandings of teacher expectations on the part of the student, or of student behaviour on the part of the teacher. Most schools, teachers, curriculum documents and texts reflect, transmit and reproduce the discourse, knowledge and values of the mainstream culture, while excluding or negating those of minority or diverse groups.
There is consistent evidence indicating that the relationships that teachers have with their students, including teachers showing genuine interest in their students and their culture, influences learning. There further is consistent evidence showing that students who feel welcome and comfortable in, and connected to, their school (and individual class/classroom/teacher) tend to show greater levels of engagement and academic achievement.
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