University of Washington Profession of Education Geneva Gay defines culturally responsive teaching as “the behavioral expressions of knowledge, beliefs, and values that recognize the importance of racial and cultural diversity in learning. It is contingent on . . . seeing cultural differences as assets; creating caring learning communities where culturally different individuals and heritages are valued; using cultural knowledge of ethnically diverse cultures, families, and communities to guide curriculum development, classroom climates, instructional strategies, and relationships with students; challenging racial and cultural stereotypes, prejudices, racism, and other forms of intolerance, injustice, and oppression; being change agents for social justice and academic equity; mediating power imbalances in classrooms based on race, culture, ethnicity, and class; and accepting cultural responsiveness as endemic to educational effectiveness in all areas of learning for students from all ethnic groups.”

Geneva. Gay.  (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College, p. 31.


Multi-cultural = includes racial, ethnic, linguistic minority, gender, sexual orientation, SES, disability, and their various intersections

Dominant culture = AKA mainstream, majority, Eurocentric

As I teach, consider:

 CRT Level -1           Do I view my students through a deficit lens?

 How do I talk about my students’ identities? How do I speak about the histories and cultures of groups other than my own? Are members, histories, and cultures of the non-dominant group characterized/represented through a deficit lens or with demeaning messages by me or through the resources I use?

If so, how?

 RACE Specify:______________________________________________________

  • COUNTRY/ETHNICTY Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • IMMIGRATION STATUS Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • LANGUAGE/ACCENT Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • RELIGION Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • GENDER Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS Specify:______________________________________________________
  • DISABILITY Specify:_______________________________________________________
  • AGE Specify:_______________________________________________________


 Level 0

  • No culturally or linguistically relevant materials were included in my class.


Level 1                                    CONTRIBUTIONS APPROACH

 Heroes, holidays, historical events, & discrete cultural elements are incorporated into class lessons.

  • I include major figures, contributors, or historical events from cultures other than the dominant culture[1] into the lesson.
  • I include cultural or artistic works (literature, music, visual and performing arts/artists) from cultures other than the dominant culture into the lesson.
  • I include research contributions from cultures other than the dominant cultures into my lessons.

CRT Level 2                  ADDITIVE APPROACH

Multicultural content, concepts, themes are incorporated to the lesson from multi-cultural students’ perspectives

  • I include resources and texts that (e.g., reading, film, etc.) present multi-cultural[2] perspectives in the lesson.
  • I include lectures/discussions that present multi-cultural perspectives my lessons.
  • I teach a unit that presents multi-cultural perspectives into my curricula.


 The structure of the curriculum enables students to view concepts, issues, events & themes from the perspectives of diverse ethnic, racial, & cultural groups

  • I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view concepts, issues, themes and problems from several multi-cultural perspectives.
  • I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view class concepts being studied from multiple perspectives, frames of references from various groups and various individuals within those groups.
  • I infuse multiple perspectives, frames of references, and content from various groups and perspectives to extend students’ understandings of the nature, development, and complexity of the society in which they live.
  • I introduce the “canons” of my discipline and augment them to reflect the complex synthesis and interaction of the diverse racial/ethnic/religious/cultural elements that comprise our society.

CRT Level 4                 SOCIAL ACTION APPROACH

 Students make decisions on important social issues & take action to help solve them

  • My teaching encourages students to identify existing social problems or issues from multi-cultural perspectives.
  • My lessons and assignments encourage students to gather pertinent data from multi-cultural perspectives on existing social problems or issues.
  • My teaching encourages students to clarify their values and make decisions about existing social problems using multi-cultural perspectives.
  • My teaching encourages students to take reflective actions to help resolve social problems.

[i]    This checklist is adapted from Integrating the Curriculum with Ethnic Content: Approaches and Guidelines, pp 189-207 in J.A. Banks & C. A. McGee Banks (Eds.), Multicultural Education: Issues & Perspectives, Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Desdemona Cardoza, PhD and Margaret Fieweger, PhD developed a version of this checklist for the 4th Annual All Campus Faculty Symposium, (1990). “Communicating, Advising and Teaching in a Multicultural University”, California State University, Los Angeles, April 24.

The UCLA Institute for Immigration, Globalization, & Education research team (PI- Carola Suárez-Orozco) further adapted it for the Spencer Foundation funded Making the Invisible Visible Project by adding the Cultural Deficit Lens (CRT -1) and No Cultural Relevant Pedagogy Observed (CRT Level 0).

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