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As our nation grapples with the violent and racist attacks against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, culturally responsive classrooms, both virtual and in-person, provide students with spaces for reflection, critical questioning, and affirmed identities. 

How can educators best support students in processing the recent events?

The tenets of Culturally Responsive Education as researched and developed by scholars like Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. Geneva Gay, Dr. H. Samy Alim, Dr. Django Paris, and Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, among others, imagine learning communities that center student experiences, connect historical context to contemporary happenings, and offer young people opportunities to consider vital ways to sustain cultural practices.

Helping students understand current events and systems of inequity can be fostered through the engagement of culturally responsive practices. This critical work can exist in the following ways:

  1. Acknowledge the events that have occurred. Give students space to discuss, grieve, and process. Students can journal their thoughts and questions, share their feelings in small discussion circles, or respond to poems and artwork created in the days following the attacks in Atlanta and other cities.
  2. Provide students with information and resources about the long history of anti-Asian racism in the United States. Historical analysis is important in helping young people understand that the recent events did not occur as singular moments without nuanced context and generational oppression.
  3. Share stories and examples of AAPI joy, innovation, creativity, and contributions. Discuss with students the many different identities of AAPI people and encourage them to visit and support local organizations and businesses that elevate the lived experiences and valuable perspectives of AAPI people. 

Giving students a forum for discussion, understanding, and action not only gives them rich opportunities for deep learning but helps ensure that our next generation of citizen leaders recognize the full humanity of all people and are equipped to spur necessary, and long overdue, change.

Many cultural organizations, museums, and agencies provide educators with resources to support in sharing AAPI stories and experiences. Here are a few to explore:

Learn more about Savvas Learning Company’s Culturally Responsive Learning Initiative > 

Engaging All Students With Culturally Relevant Instruction: How Do You Want to Change the World?

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Meg Honey

Meg Honey

Director of Professional Learning Content

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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