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How can teachers and leaders activate cultural responsiveness?

Providing a culturally responsive teaching and leading (CRTL) professional learning series: 4 case studies

The American public education system continues to wrestle with these critical questions:

  • How do educators ensure that each student is actively engaged in the learning meaning-making process?
  • How do educators honor students’ lived experiences and the assets they bring to the learning process to inform support, and ensure high levels of learning, student growth, and academic success?
  • How do educators co-create individualized, dynamic, and rigorous learning plans that support the unique learning needs of each student?

A host of state education agencies, districts, and schools are working to address these important inquiries.

Westat Senior Study Director Wesley Williams, II, an equity, racial equity, and culturally responsive content expert, authored, designed, and customized a professional learning series. The series aligns with Gloria Ladson-Billings’ culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) and Geneva Gay’s culturally responsive teaching research.  

One of the primary learning outcomes for each customized professional learning series is to understand why cultural responsiveness is so critical to 21st century teaching and learning.

Each of the partnerships described below has spanned 2-6 years of engaging in this critically important equity work.

Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE). CSDE and Westat collaborated to customize a professional learning series for the state’s teachers and school leaders who are acquiring an educational leadership credential. Mr. Williams customized a 4-session CRTL series for the participants. Each participant will use the content learned from the series to inform the development and implementation of a CRTL Activation Plan at their school for the upcoming academic year. 

East Hartford Public Schools. The school system and Westat collaborated to support its equity and culturally responsive teaching and leading goals. Mr. Williams customized a 4-session equity and CRTL series for the district’s equity committee. The committee members represent teams from each school in the district. Each participant will use the content learned from the series to inform the development and implementation of a CRTL Activation Plan at their school for the upcoming academic year. 

Ohio Department of Education (ODE). ODE and Westat engaged in a 2-year partnership to develop CRP learning modules, a resource for preservice and in-service teachers and leaders. Mr. Williams also designed in-person CRP facilitators’ trainings for Ohio teacher leaders, school leaders, equity directors, and educators interested in serving as lead facilitators to support CRP professional learning in districts and schools.

Participants who completed the CRP facilitator training granted ODE permission to post their names on the website so that local districts and schools can collaborate with Ohio’s cadre of trained CRP facilitators to support their CRP professional learning needs using the CRP learning modules and facilitator guides. To date, 200+ Ohio educators have attended the facilitator training.

Youth Empowerment Services (YES). YES (Teacher Incentive Fund grantee) and Westat have engaged in a 6-year partnership to support its equity and culturally responsive teaching and leading goals. Mr. Williams customized equity and CRTL professional learning series for new and veteran teachers and school leaders (among its 5 districts and 16 schools). Each participant used the content learned from the series to inform the development and implementation of a CRTL Activation Plan. Recently, YES and Mr. Williams co-created and piloted a CRTL coaching program for a cohort of new teachers and mentors.

 

The professional learning series informs ways educators can activate cultural responsiveness in the daily rhythm of teaching and learning with fidelity. It can also inform ways that equity teams at the state, district, and school levels can develop more equitable and culturally responsive policies and programs.

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