Embedding Culturally Responsive Teaching into the School Day


Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

Winthrop University

Second Presenter's Institution

Winthrop University

Third Presenter's Institution

Winthrop University

Fourth Presenter's Institution


Fifth Presenter's Institution




Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills


This proposal is highly connected to Strand II: Social and Emotional Skills. The presenters will be providing program participants with specific steps that teachers can take to foster a culturally responsive classroom and school environment. Practitioners will be able to use the cultural activities and strategies to help students from diverse backgrounds to feel comfortable in and positive about their learning environments, and create classrooms where the learning community can truly be developed and flourish.

Brief Program Description

This session will describe culturally responsive activities and strategies that K-12 teachers can implement in the classroom and throughout the school day to ensure that they are meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of their diverse student population.


Many teachers enter the workforce with inadequate preparation to implement culturally responsive pedagogy based on a sound foundation of cultural competence. This lack of preparation has resulted in a reliance on less effective methodology that may consist of minimal, fragmented content, such as discussing holidays, reading a limited amount of multicultural literature, or having international food fairs (White-Clark, 2005). The development of culturally responsive behaviors that later translates into actual teacher practices cannot be limited to preservice course work, inservice training sessions, or community-based experiences. In addition, there must be a concerted effort by both teachers and administrators to bring multicultural concerns and issues to the “front and center.” (Nieto, 2000, p. 81). The prospects of teachers developing cultural competence as a result of chance or a limited number of university courses or experiences that may or may not take place, make it vital for educators to take the responsibility to develop, implement, and maintain culturally responsive activities that are embedded in the existing routines of the school.

Presenters will be sharing with session participants a school-based support system that can be used to develop, implement, and maintain efforts to help foster a culturally responsive learning environment. This system is based on nine specific activities intended to be incorporated into school-based routines. These activities include:

Taking an introspective look at one’s own culture along with one’s feelings toward culturally diverse students

Conducting classroom meetings that allow cultural issues to be addressed

Arranging formal classroom discussions that highlight cultural diversity

Engage in one-on-one conversations with students from diverse backgrounds

Using multicultural literature for personal and professional development

Using multicultural literature in the classroom

Finding and using strategies that have been proven to work with minority students

Seeking the guidance of a mentor

Establishing sound parent relationships


Over the last four decades, the student population attending our nation’s schools, particularly in urban areas, has changed dramatically, becoming more ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse (Shakespear, Beardsley, & Newton, 2003; Richards, Brown, & Fords, 2007). This increase in diverse student populations has brought about a number of challenges for a largely Caucasian and female teacher workforce (Garmon, 2004). Questions about the mismatch between the cultural backgrounds of our nation’s teaching force and the students they serve have prompted many to ponder the existence of a “cultural clash” (Necochea, 1997; Casteel, 1998; Cartledge, Kea, & Ida, 2000). Wide-spread concern regarding the achievement gaps between Caucasian and minority groups (e.g., Latino and African Americans) is reflected in the actions of teachers and administrators in schools (Walker-Dalhouse, 2005; Alder, 2002; Brown, 2002). In short, “dealing with diversity,” is a critical issue for teachers, administrators, and families affecting all students (Sleeter, 2012).

Cultural competence is the ability to successfully teach students from cultures other than your own. It entails mastering complex awareness and sensitivities, various bodies of knowledge, and a set of skills that, taken together, underlie effective cross-cultural teaching (Diller & Moule, 2005, p. 5). Teachers play an important role in determining students’ academic success or failure (Jacobson, 2000; Villegas & Lucas, 2007). It is essential that teachers have the ability and willingness to develop culturally responsive practice for the benefit of their students. Though teachers can acknowledge the importance of diversity, competency in the classroom is often determined by teachers’ ability to apply their own cultural knowledge in ways that enable students to learn (Sheets & Fong, 2003; Walker, 2013). This implies that many teachers may not be influenced by efforts undertaken by a school or a district, but rather rely on their own personal experiences and understanding about culture. While it is not justified to completely discount the validity of personal experience and the ability for many teachers to “turn their experiences” into successful pedagogical methodology, it is unrealistic to believe that personal experience can serve as the primary mode of preparation for teachers who work in urban schools. More must be done to ensure that all teachers have the appropriate preparation and support system in place to work with all students, including those with disabilities. The challenge for teachers and administrators is to understand how culturally responsive pedagogy can become a part of the school culture as well as teacher practice (Aceves & Orosco, 2014; Vavrus, 2008).

Teachers and administrators must be able to adequately define, understand, and implement a system that promotes culturally responsive practice and further assists teachers to make cultural competence an integral part of their classroom routines. Garmon (2004) suggests six critical factors that appear to play a critical role in the development of cultural competence: (a) openness to diversity, (b) self-awareness/self-reflectiveness, (c) commitment to social justice, (d) intercultural experiences, (e) support group experiences, and (f) educational experiences. A combination of educational experience, formal instruction, and personal reflection all combine to foster culturally responsive behaviors that support student growth and development.

Biographical Sketch

Kavin Ming
Kavin Ming is an Associate Professor of literacy in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, SC. She previously taught at Lynn University and Washington Elementary in Palm Beach County, FL. At Lynn University she taught courses in special education, beginning reading instruction, and early childhood development. At Washington Elementary she worked with title 1 at-risk students who were in danger of grade retention and subsequence school dropout.

Kavin earned a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Special Education from Florida State University, and an Ed.D. in Special Education from Florida Atlantic University. At Winthrop, Dr. Ming teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the following areas: beginning reading instruction, reading assessment, content area literacy, and children's literature. Her current areas of research interest include: improving the success rate of students at risk for reading failure, reading fluency, and effective multicultural practices in classrooms.

Tenisha Powell
Tenisha L. Powell is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, SC and has been in the field of early childhood education since 2000, first serving as lead teacher in a three to four-year-old classroom. After receiving her Bachelor's degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in early Education & Family Studies and her Master's degree from Purdue University in Child Development & Family studies, she worked briefly as a Project Director for Project Literacy at Purdue University. Her duties included preparing training guides and coaching protocols for Head Start teachers and providing technical assistance and consultation in the area of Early Childhood Literacy. Tenisha was also responsible for presenting enhanced strategies to increase best classroom practices for implementing an age-appropriate emergent literacy program.

Tenisha also holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Early Childhood Education & Development. At Winthrop, Dr. Powell teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Early Childhood Education Program including Science in Early Childhood Education, Young Children: Insuring Success, Community Connections for Families, Introduction to Early Childhood Education and Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Care and Education.

Helyne Frederick
Helyne Frederick serves as an Associate Professor and Director of the Family and Consumer Sciences program at Winthrop University. She studies risk behaviors of adolescents from minority groups with an emphasis on the effects on well-being. In addition, she is interested in examining pedagogical issues related to teaching cross-cultural courses in development, family, and education and violence/sexual assault prevention. She earned a doctorate and Masters’ degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University and an MPH in Public Health from Eastern Kentucky University.

Keyword Descriptors

culturally responsive teaching, cultural competence, multicultural education, diversity

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-6-2017 10:30 AM

End Date

3-6-2017 11:45 AM

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Mar 6th, 10:30 AM Mar 6th, 11:45 AM

Embedding Culturally Responsive Teaching into the School Day


This session will describe culturally responsive activities and strategies that K-12 teachers can implement in the classroom and throughout the school day to ensure that they are meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of their diverse student population.