Cultural Competence to Help Diverse Students

Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education: Building Cultural Competence and Serving Diverse Student Populations
Edited by C. Matthew Fugate, Wendy A. Behrens, Cecelia Boswell, and Joy Lawson Davis
(Routledge, 2021 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Megan Kelly

I was immediately drawn to this book even though I don’t teach in a gifted education program. I correctly suspected that the information presented would be beneficial to all students.

I teach in a school with privileged students from a variety of backgrounds and was pleased to see that Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education is broken down into chapters which address a variety of populations.

My Key Understandings

As the different essays are so varied, I thought the best way to review the book would be to share some of my notes and key understandings. In Jeff Danielian’s essay, “School Climate Change,” the author lays out the importance of creating a community where each student feels seen, accepted, and encouraged to speak up for themselves.

Something that stood out to me was Danielian’s emphasis on the importance of community outreach. COVID restrictions have limited this in the past few years, but if I’m honest with myself, I wasn’t great at it before. His idea to shift to “learn local” resonated and is an immediate point of action for me.

Danielian discusses the importance of using the physical environment to build community and reminds readers that “Simply putting posters up of ethnic or gender-specific scientists… during a particular month of the year doesn’t cut it.”

Shame on me because I wasn’t even doing that! I realized that it would be great for students to know what professions relate to what we study. For example, we know about sustainability, but what is the wide range of jobs that students could hold in that field?

Javetta Jones Roberson’s essay, “The Need for Culturally Responsive Gifted Educators,” was especially beneficial because it gave suggestions of how to put culturally responsive strategies into practice. This was what I most hoped to find in the book. Jones Roberson states that relatable, real-world experiences should be at the center of our teaching practice so that students see themselves in the classroom.

Some of her ideas include “Quick-write activities about community awareness, blended learning activities with visuals and vocabulary in station rotations, and project-based learning that focuses on real-world scenarios…” Because I am teaching in Singapore, there are so many cultural opportunities to deepen our understanding of the curriculum.

The most meaningful essay, to me, was Michelle Frazier Trotman Scott’s “Promoting Racism: Through the Eyes of a Black Mother.” We don’t often read the parental perspective in these professional development texts, but I found her entry to be riveting.

Telling the story of her gifted daughter’s journey from first to ninth grade, Scott details the impact of teacher actions and, more importantly, offers the antiracist strategies the educators should have used. It was painful to read about the struggles her daughter faced; a year is a long time to spend with a teacher who doesn’t appreciate or support a student.

A Rich Resource to Revisit Often

Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education ends with a Call to Action section. The recommendations from the Association for the Gifted, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, are research-based and offer resources for educators to learn more.

I love that the editors included their own personal Top 10 Reading Lists on ways to support and create cultural responsiveness in schools. I will refer back to their suggestions as I continue my professional learning.

Megan Kelly has been teaching English and History internationally since 2003, most recently in Singapore. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and is passionate about literacy and learning through play. She tweets at @33megan33. See all her ELA and history teaching tips for MiddleWeb here.



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