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Culturally Responsive Leadership in STEM Education
The purpose of this playbook is to engage school leaders, teachers, and parents in the research on the topic of Culturally Responsive Leadership (CRL) to make connections to STEM education in their communities. CRL is a process that educators, parents, and community members should constantly improve upon as there is no single definition. Instead, culturally responsive leadership is flexible and adaptable to the needs of communities.
Khalifa (2018) presents three basic premises of culturally responsive school leadership:
- Cultural responsiveness is a necessary component of effective school leadership.
- Cultural responsiveness is to be present and sustainable in school, it must foremost and consistently be promoted by school leaders.
- Cultural responsiveness is characterized by a core set of unique leadership behaviors, namely: (a) being critically self-reflective; (b) developing and sustaining culturally responsive teachers and curricula; (c) promoting inclusive, anti-oppressive school contexts; and (d) engaging students' Indigenous (or local neighborhood) community contexts.
CRL is concerned primarily with understanding community-based epistemologies and perceptions that have been historically marginalized by school-based epistemologies (Khalifa, 2018; Khalifa, Gooden, & Davis, 2016). Epistemology is concerned with anything that informs or influences us in how we learn and understand what we believe is real.
There are three (3) primary learning outcomes following engagement with this playbook:
- To develop an understanding of culturally responsive leadership and its importance;
- To integrate culturally responsive leadership practices within schools and communities;
- And, to review and provide examples of culturally responsive STEM programs, activities, and projects.
WHY IS CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE LEADERSHIP IMPORTANT?
CRL is essential because when school leaders, teachers, and district leaders make and sustain community connections with parents and students, they honor community-based epistemologies or ways of knowing. Research shows that schools are frequently disconnected from communities, and CRL provides opportunities to establish and usher in community-informed school policies and humanizing processes. CRL positions school leaders as learners of the communities they serve and calls for a deep and meaningful understanding of longstanding historical contexts. School leaders and all individuals concerned with students' education and well-being in communities must work diligently to translate any community knowledge obtained into critical, adaptable, and effective leadership practices within schools and throughout school districts. This playbook provides several tools and examples for school leaders to work toward cultural responsiveness.
Culturally Responsive Leaders consistently grapple with the follow self-reflective questions:
Adapted from Culturally Responsive School Leadership by Dr. Muhammad Khalifa
- What are culturally responsive leadership behaviors that can improve the lives and educational experiences of minoritized children?
- How can culturally responsive leadership behaviors be exemplified in schools?
- In what ways do schools and school leaders contribute to or resist disparities and inequities in school?
- What roles do schools and school leaders play in either reproducing or resisting oppression in school environments?
- How can "traditional" leadership behaviors be adjusted or nuanced to address the needs of minoritized students?
- To what extent must school leaders engage the communities they serve in order to be culturally responsive?
- What can schools do to earn the trust and credibility of the communities they serve?
- How can schools validate the identities and aspirations of children they serve?
Who is this chapter for?
Educators - CRL is vital for educators to develop deeper and more meaningful connections with students, parents, and the communities in which they teach. CRL provides a self-reflective approach to understanding their positionality related to student and community perspectives, experiences, and interests.
District Leaders and School Administrators - CRL is vital for administrators who operate within schooling spaces where standardized assessments and evaluations measure barometers of success. Culturally responsive administrators must ensure that student performance outcomes link to community values and expectations.
The Importance of Culturally Responsive Leadership in STEM Education
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE STEM PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The following guiding principles provide a starting point for educators and district leaders who both engage in and create culturally responsive, STEM-focused professional development with an emphasis on STEM education.
Establish Inclusion - Consider the diverse needs and assets of STEM teachers who may attend the professional development workshops. Make every effort to group participants with different backgrounds, experiences and subject areas. Consider the context of both students and teachers who are culturally and linguistically diverse, have varied abilities, gender and sexual identities. (Article)
Foster Confidence - Empower teachers to share ideas and experiences that build upon existing assets and strengths to foster confidence. Encourage them to take chances and try something new!
Enhance Meaning - Integrate example lessons and activities that draw connections with real-world issues and build relevancy and motivation for students in various urban, rural and suburban settings.
Responsive and Active Teaching - Use hands-on active learning strategies in both student and teacher mode that consider participants' learning needs and styles. The outcomes, content and activities of the workshop should be grounded in a multicultural and everyday context that builds relevancy and motivation for students. (Article)
Critical Lens - Use a critical lens to examine and present content and experiences that acknowledge inequities in the education system and how knowledge is created, for whom and why.
Build Community - Offer a platform to co-create sustainable learning communities focused on improving outcomes for all students and their families, particularly those students who are members of cultural and linguistic minorities.
Other considerations for becoming culturally responsive in STEM education include:
- Developing a culturally diverse knowledge base
- Designing culturally relevant curricula
- Demonstrating cultural caring
- Building a learning community
- Providing cross-cultural communication
- Using cultural congruity in classroom instruction
EXAMPLES OF CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE STEM PROGRAMS
Culturally Responsive Teaching Guide for School LeadersCulturally Responsive Teaching Guide for School Leaders
Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School SettingsIdentifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings
Mentoring Programs for Minority Students: Black Girls Do STEMMentoring Programs for Minority Students: Black Girls Do STEM
Project-Based Activity: Culturally Responsive STEM Math Lab ProgramsProject-Based Activity: Culturally Responsive STEM Math Lab Programs
Strategies and Activities: Creating a Community Oversight CommitteeStrategies and Activities: Creating a Community Oversight Committee
Share your ideas, comments, or feedback on MiSTEM Network Playbooks!