8 actions to develop culturally responsive leadership

New framework guide leaders in developing a vision for embedding equity into every facet district operations
By: | September 23, 2020
(GettyImages/kali9)

“Leading for equity and access” is the first of eight key actions K-12 education leaders can take to make their school systems more culturally responsive.

The next seven steps are detailed for equity-minded administrators in the newly released, “Culturally Responsive Leadership: A Framework for School & School System Leaders” from The Leadership Academy.

The goal of the new framework is to guide leaders in developing and integrating a vision for equity into everyday district operations, and to coach educators in creating an antiracist climate.

The framework also covers how leaders can offer professional development that focus on cultural responsiveness and equity.


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Here are the framework’s 8 actions:

1. Lead for equity and access: This requires that leaders reflect on their own beliefs and biases, and then model a personal belief system that is student-centered and grounded in equity, access, and antiracism.

Leaders must also use of diverse perspectives in decision-making and confront behavior that promotes inequity.

2. Align mission, vision and core values: Leaders should collaborate with families to develop a shared vision for equitable access to rigorous instruction.

Administrators can also lead courageous community conversations about antiracism and equity in student educational opportunities and outcomes.

3. Focus on instruction: All planning processes should be anchored on cycles of continuous improvement.

Leaders must regularly review and evaluate curriculum, assessments and learning materials to ensure all students have access to culturally responsive learning experiences.

Also, leaders should develop an instructional leadership team that is representative of the student population.

4. Facilitate adult learning and development: Leaders must understand the cultural and diverse learning needs of staff and be transparent about decision-making.

Leaders should also continuously evaluate to what extent norms of white dominant culture are promoted by district policies.


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5. Manage operations and resources: Prioritizing the allocation of resources—human, material, and supplementary—cam eliminate gaps and disparities for underserved populations.

Teachers must also be required to select high-quality instructional materials.

6. Engage in personal learning and development: Leaders who readily admit errors can use them as learning opportunities.

They can also transform disagreement and dissent into opportunities for understanding and collaboration.

7. Strategize chance and continuous improvement: Formative and summative data should drive decisions around culturally responsive teaching  .


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Teachers also need support in accurately interpreting data to identify instructional disparities across lines of race, ethnicity, ability, language, and gender.

8. Cultivate community care and engagement: Seeking and using diverse and divergent perspectives should be a priority for administrators.

Leaders should also advocate for the needs and priorities of all students and their families in creating an inclusive school climate.