When teaching a diverse group of students, it is important to consider their identities, backgrounds, and cultures. Culture includes shared beliefs, customs, rituals, and traditions. Getting to know the identities and backgrounds of your students can help you to more effectively connect with your students, understand what is important to them, and support them in achieving their transition goals.

For example, if a student’s religious identity is something that is important to them, that student may be interested in attending a college which has a student group of that particular religion, or finding employment at an organization related to that religion. Culturally responsive practices are important to implement in classrooms and all forms of communication with your students in order to facilitate inclusion. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  1. Research the school system you work in to see what (if any) diversity, equity, and inclusion practices they already have in place.
  1. Competencies for Culturally Responsive Teaching
    • Reflect on your perspective and think how it may be different from students
    • Recognize ways the system may be easier/harder for students
    • Provide links between a student’s background and new academic concepts
    • Bring real-world issues into the classroom
    • Recognize that all students are capable of achieving high levels of success
    • Promote respect for students’ differences
    • Collaborate with families and the community
    • Communicate in culturally responsive ways
  1. Cultivating a Culturally Responsive Classroom


Do Don’t
Do learn all of your students’ names and how to correctly pronounce them Don’t make that the only thing you learn about them
Do recognize that all experiences are valid Don’t tell someone what they felt or experienced.
Do create a safe space for students to share their experiences and culture openly. Don’t ask your students to speak for the experiences of all students in their culture or identity group
Do show compassion when asking questions Don’t interrogate.
Do include diverse examples of role models in your examples. Don’t only choose examples that reinforce stereotypes.
Do honor and celebrate your students’ cultures every day. Don’t recognize certain cultures only on special holidays or months of the year.
Do set an example of openness by sharing your background and culture. Don’t assume that students have the same background and culture as you


  1. The ADDRESSING Model
  • This model is a strategy for thinking about how each distinct identity that a particular student holds may influence their interests or values. Each identity in the ADDRESSING model is defined below:


Identity Definition
Age Chronological age and generational roles that are important in a person’s culture including experiences specific to age cohorts such as being a “teenager” or a “young adult”
Disability (Developmental) Disability that a person is born with such as Down Syndrome, Autism, etc.
Disability (Acquired) Disability that a person acquires later in life due to an accident or illness, such as a Traumatic Brain Injury
Religion and spiritual orientation Religious beliefs that a person aligns themselves with such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, etc.
Ethnicity and race A person’s sense of belonging to a particular race or ethnic group including Asian, Pacific Islander, Latinx, African American, White, etc.
Socioeconomic status Typically defined by education, occupation, and income and ranges from people with low education and poverty to people with high education and extreme wealth
Sexual orientation A person’s sexual preference (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, etc.)
Indigenous heritage A person who is of indigenous or native heritage
National origin and Language Is the student living in their country of birth? Does the student speak multiple languages or sign language? For example: immigrants, refugees, and international students.
Gender How does the student identify on the gender spectrum? For example: Male, female, transgender, intersex, and other gender non-conforming identities