Beginning in October, the Carlos Rosario School’s faculty and staff started a discussion group on the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (2017). This professional development activity was held at both Harvard Street and Sonia Gutierrez Campuses.
The Student Services team at the Sonia Gutierrez Campus discussed the book once a week during their team meetings. At the Harvard Street Campus, the Assistant Principals team has been discussing culturally responsive teaching and neuroplasticity in professional development and presenting to teachers at faculty meetings this school year 2018-2019.
The book starts the conversation about diversity and the influence culture has on learning. The Carlos Rosario School attracts students from many countries and ethnicities and has a high percentage of English language learners. This professional development aims to improve outcomes for diverse students who are struggling and helps teachers to have tools to be culturally responsive to students from diverse backgrounds. “Our school is very culturally diverse, and that makes this work very important and relevant,” said Professional Development Specialist Suzan Espinoza.
In the book, author Zaretta Hammond discusses how employing strategies like selective vulnerability, showing familiarity and concern can help teachers make connections with students and help build trust between them. “Staff talk about how they relate to the chapter and how they can use the strategies in the book to connect with our students,” Suzan said. “The book talks about the importance of culture in learning and in establishing a positive learning environment,” she added.
The book was selected by the school’s Cognition and Learning Committee last year to help staff better address the topics of productive struggle, metacognitive monitoring, and working memory. “We started reading this book because we are looking at culture through the Cultural Tree image where we distinguish the different levels of culture through Surface, Shallow, and Depth Culture,”said Sandra Gonzalez, Director of Spanish GED at the Harvard Street Campus.
By adopting culturally responsive practices, the Carlos Rosario School seeks to build authentic relationships and establish a sense of community with the diverse populations that it serves.“Principals here at the Carlos Rosario School think reading this book together will build communities,” said Selvon Waldron, Student Services Director at the Sonia Gutierrez Campus.“The goal is to work better with our students to build relationship through diversity, inclusivity and equity,” he added.
“Culture is a universal fact of human life; culture is learned; and cultural patterns change over time. Each of us, along with each of our students, has developed his/her own culture,” Sandra said. Carlos Rosario School’s Faculty and Staff Enhance Their Culturally Responsive Practices Carlos Rosario School Faculty and Staff Discuss Culturally Responsive Practices