Culturally Responsive Practices
Culturally responsive practices create a supportive, inviting environment where students, particularly those who have been marginalized, feel a sense of belonging. Schools that engage in culturally responsive practices create an environment that acknowledges and embraces students’ cultural referents and funds of knowledge, hold high expectations for all students and use an asset-based mindset when engaging with students. This school environment also gives students agency and voice as well as fosters critical thinking and self-reflection. In these schools, students see their cultural identities reflected in the curriculum, books and materials.
This section includes a wide range of resources such as brief articles, evidence-based literature and other tools to assist districts in fostering safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all students.
Quick Reads for Teachers
- 7 Ways to Support Diversity in the Classroom [With Examples]
- 8 Powerful Ways to Promote Equity in the Classroom
- A Guide to Equity and Antiracism for Educators
- Including Voice in Education: Addressing Equity Through Student and Family Voice in Classroom Learning
- Reading Diversity: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts
- Student Choice as a Vehicle for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Teaching Black History in Culturally Responsive Ways
- Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans
- Tip Sheet: Talking to Kids About Racial Stereotypes
- WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development
- Who Do You Call On? Rooting Out Implicit Bias
- Why Representation Matters
- Center for Educational Equity
This library of resources from Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium offers educational equity research, resources, webinars and best practices to assist educators in understanding a wide range of topics related to educational equity.
- Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth
This website hosts a series of free, online professional development modules for school and public youth services librarians, library administrators and others interested in improving their knowledge about race and racism, racial equity and culturally sustaining pedagogy.
- The National Association for Multicultural Education
This organization created a set of resources for teachers and teacher professional developers who want to know why multicultural education makes sense in the classroom, what it means and what teachers can do.
- Educator Tools for Talking About Race
The Smithsonian Institute provides K-12 educators of all disciplines a collection of featured teaching tools, scholarly resources and interactive materials that center around their initative Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past.
- Transformative SEL as a Lever for Equity & Social Justice
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) answers the question "How Does SEL Support Educational Equity and Excellence?" and provides resources intended to transform inequitable settings and systems and promote justice-oriented civic engagement.
- UDL Rising to Equity
This update to the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines focuses specifically on addressing systemic barriers that result in inequitable learning opportunities and outcomes.
Quick Reads for District Leaders
- 7 Steps Toward Building an Equitable School Culture
- 9 Ways to Promote Equity in Our Schools
- Beware of Equity Traps and Tropes
- Destigmatizing Privilege
- Preparing Staff for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
- Relevant Curriculum is Equitable Curriculum
- The Illusion of Equity PD
- The Power of Protocols for Equity
- An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools (The School Superintendents Association, April 8, 2021)
This report from the Learning 2025: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity Focused Education presents a holistic systemic redesign to facilitate equity through culture, social, emotional and cognitive growth and resources.
- Culturally Centered Education: A Primer (June 2021)
EdReports commissioned Education First to identify and define the key terms being used to describe culturally centered theories and models of instruction. The report aims to better understand the current state of the discussion around culturally centered philosophies, needs of the field and implications for instructional materials.
- Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practices for Teaching All Students Equitably (Krasnoff, March 2016)
The Region X Equity Assistance Center at Education Northwest funded by the US Department of Education created this guide to provide a wide range of practices—supported by research—that can help prepare educators become more culturally responsive in their approach to teaching.
- Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success (Darling-Hammond & Cook-Harvey, 2018)
This report by the Learning Policy Institute summarizes evidence about the effects of positive school climate, social-emotional learning, and productive teaching strategies on achievement. These approaches can help children overcome toxic stress and trauma, including stereotype threats that undermine achievement.
- Reimaging School Board Leadership: Actions for Equity (2021)
The National School Boards Association’s Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education Initiative and the Center for Safe Schools published this guide to explore how school board members can set the tone and create policy to influence operations in each of these areas so that all students receive the resources they need to graduate prepared for success after high school.
- Systemic Implementation of Equity Toolkit
This toolkit includes guiding questions to support district leaders and equity committee members in guiding initial conversations around equity and profiles districts that have successfully implemented these strategies with fidelity.
- Teaching for Equity: A Guide to Integrating Academics, Well-Being & Anti-Racism in Student Experiences (Leading Educators, 2020)
Teaching for Equity is an integrated framework designed to guide educators to reflect on their practice, to see the connections across areas of research that support whole students, and to live out commitments to anti-racism.
- Additional diversity, equity and inclusion strategies can be found on the above hyperlinked New Jersey Department of Education webpage.
- The A-Z of Social Justice in Physical Education, Part 1 and Part 2
These articles from the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance feature strategies to foster an equitable and inclusive physical education program designed to meet the unique needs of all students.
- The Health Equity Framework: A Science- and Justice-Based Model for Public Health Researchers and Practitioners
This article describes a science and justice-based framework for promoting health equity designed for researchers and practitioners working across public health and social science fields.
- Engaging Students in Physical Education (PE): Key Challenges and Opportunities for PE in Urban Settings
The purpose of this article is to identify the attributes of urban settings that influence how physical education is taught, and to provide action-oriented strategies for addressing challenges and for making the most of available resources. The strategies discussed highlight the importance of preservice training and ongoing professional development, reflective and responsive instructional practices, and partnerships with academic and community institutions.
- LGBT Youth Resources for Educators and School Administrators
The Centers for Disease Control provides a variety of resources to support educators in creating a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.
- National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Physical Health
This comprehensive website provides a variety of resources that promote wellness in the school community.
- Unified Physical Education
The Special Olympics New Jersey website provides a guide to inclusive physical education that focuses on the physical, intellectual and social growth for all students. In this model, students of all ability levels come together through ongoing fitness, sports, leadership and wellness activities to create important social relationships.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in comprehensive health and physical education classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- Computer Science Teachers Association: Reports and Publications
This website provides a wide range of current and archived research, reports and toolkits. A Guide to Inclusive Computer Science Education and Computer Science for All are two examples of resources related specifically to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Designing an Equitable and Sustainable Computer Science Education Program
The National School Boards Association created this resource to assist districts in developing an equity focused computer science program.
- Equity in Computer Science Education
The K-12 Computer Science Framework provides a chapter that offers background as well as examples of equity in practice.
- Increasing Equity and Inclusion in Computer Science Education
An article by the Computer Science Teachers Association that provides practical tools and resources.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in computer science and design thinking classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- American Library Association Inclusive Book Lists
These booklists highlight diverse voices including racial diversity and sexuality, and can be used in the classroom and when ordering collections. There are many booklists in the world that are categorized by topic, but these booklists ensure that underrepresented voices are being heard as well.
- Disrupt Texts
A crowdsourced, grass roots effort by teachers for teachers to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative and equitable language arts curriculum that our students deserve.
- Diverse Book Finder Collection Analysis Tool
The Collection Analysis Tool provides districts and educators with the ability to receive a report that analyzes their picture book collections and provides suggestions on how to increase the diversity of their book selection.
- Reading Diversity
This tool promotes a comprehensive approach to text selection that prioritizes critical literacy, cultural responsiveness and complexity.
- Teaching Writing for Diversity and Equity
The National Writing Project offers a variety of resources that provide support for incorporating African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American heritage into lesson plans.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in English language arts and literacy classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- Access and Equity in Mathematics Education
This position statement from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics answers the question “What is required to create, support, and sustain a culture of access and equity in the teaching and learning of mathematics?”
- A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction
This website provides an integrated approach to mathematics that centers on Black, Latinx and Multilingual students in grades 6-8, addresses barriers to math equity and aligns instruction to grade level priority standards. The Pathway website offers guidance and resources for educators to use now as they plan their curriculum, while also offering opportunities for ongoing self-reflection as they seek to develop an anti-racist math practice. The toolkit “strides” serve as multiple on-ramps for educators as they navigate the individual and collective journey from equity to anti-racism.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in math classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- IF/THEN Collection
This website provides images, videos and other resources intended to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers, while creating a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM.
- The National Association for Multicultural Education
This organization offers a set of resources to help educators reflect on the role of culture, equity and a social justice in a science curriculum.
- New Jersey Department of Education Science
This website provides professional learning tools and other resources (e.g., STEM teaching tools) to foster culturally responsive practices in science classrooms.
- Toward More Equitable Learning in Science: Expanding Relationships Among Students, Teachers, and Science Practices
This book from the National Science Teachers Association describes how implementing the science practices in science classrooms fosters more equitable, active and engaged learning for all students.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in science classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- Contextualizing LGBT+ History within the Social Studies Curriculum (National Council for the Social Studies)
This position statement is aimed at informing all who hold a stake in the PreK-12 communities regarding the ethical, moral and civic imperative to contextualize LGBT+ history within the social studies curriculum.
- Incorporating LGBTQIA+ Content in History Lessons (Edutopia)
This article offers resources and a framework for creating an inclusive history curriculum that benefits all students by providing mirrors to their own lives and windows into others’ lived experiences.
- Issues in Social Studies: Unity and Diversity (Annenberg Learner)
This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can embrace both unity and diversity in their classrooms. Topics range from exploring democratic values to building awareness of student diversity. Through examples of students connecting with one another and embracing the different cultures within their community, teachers can reflect on how to best address issues of unity and diversity in their classroom.
- Supporting Curricular Promotion and Intersectional Valuing of Women in History and Current Events (National Council for the Social Studies)
This position statement affirms the importance of women as citizens and thereby calls for greater attention to women within social studies by offering recommendations for policy and practice.
- Teaching Black History Year-Round Requires Rigorous Sight (Edutopia)
This article provides strategies for incorporating Black history throughout the year-round curriculum.
- Toward Responsibility: Social Studies Education that Respects and Affirms Indigenous Peoples and Nations (National Council for the Social Studies)
This position statement supports the creation and implementation of social studies curricula that explicitly present and emphasize accurate narratives of the lives, experiences and histories of Indigenous Peoples and provides recommendations for educators and administrators.
- Queer America Podcast (Learning for Justice)
This webpage provides an exploration of the history of sexual identity and gender identity in the United States. Leila Rupp and John D’Emilio host this podcast series to help educators integrate LGBTQ history into their curriculum.
Additional social studies instructional resources that foster a culturally responsive classroom through centering and valuing students’ cultures and identities can be found on the Sample Activities and Lessons webpage as well as under the General section on this webpage.
- Art and Activism
This lesson series from Learning for Justice capitalizes on children's natural relationship to art by prompting them to examine the ways art relates to accessibility, LGBT rights and social justice.
- Blanton Museum of Art: Race and Social Justice in Art
This resource highlights the voices of artists, scholars and community leaders that have addressed race, inequality and justice through exhibitions and programs at the Blanton. The website also features art lesson plans that explore identity.
- Can Art Amend History? Ted Talk
The artist Titus Kaphar makes paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. In an unforgettable live workshop, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, obscuring parts of the composition and bringing its hidden story into view. There's a narrative coded in art like this, Kaphar says. What happens when we shift our focus and confront unspoken truths?
- Decolonizing the Music Room
This website provides resources to help music educators develop critical practices through research, training and discourse to build a more equitable future.
- Getting Started with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The National Art Education Association’s guide is organized around the following areas: Context and History, From Individual/Self to Community/Others, In the Classroom, Organizational Change, Impact, and Action Steps You Can Take Today—with the goal to assist educators in meeting the needs of all students.
- How Art Analysis Addresses Cultural Bias in the Classroom
This article from the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development exams visual thinking strategies as a tool for change in addressing bias, stereotypes and racism.
- Institute for Composer Diversity
The Composer Diversity Database is a resource for the musical community through which composers from underrepresented groups can be discovered. Composers can be found through several different search filters including gender, racial/ethnic demographics, sexual/romantic identity, residence and various large ensemble and chamber ensemble genres.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum Teacher Guides and Resources
This website provides resources for educators to use artworks to explore historical eras, literary themes, and connections to the present day. Contextualized within the people, movements, and stories of the United States, these artworks provide rich opportunities to uncover complexities and perspectives and put new knowledge to use.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in visual and performing arts classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
- Enacting Social Justice in Early Language Classrooms through Critical Cultural Awareness Webinar
This webinar by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages is a resource for language educators that addresses issues of race, diversity and social justice.
- Resources that Address Issues of Race, Diversity and Social Justice
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages provides an assortment of webinars, articles, research papers and resources to support educators.
Additional guidance and resources that can be used in world language classes can be found under the General section on this webpage.
The resources provided on this webpage are for informational purposes only. All resources must meet the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) accessibility guidelines. Currently, the NJDOE aims to conform to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). However, the NJDOE does not guarantee that linked external sites conform to Level AA of the WCAG 2.1. Neither the Department of Education nor its officers, employees or agents specifically endorse, recommend or favor these resources or the organizations that created them. Please note that the Department of Education has not reviewed or approved the materials related to the programs.