In an effort to make the school system more equitable, city officials have invested heavily in training teachers and administrators in culturally responsive-sustaining education or CRSE. Some of the core tenets of CRSE include honoring students’ cultural backgrounds, providing authentic opportunities for students to pose questions, and creating opportunities for learning that respond to real-world issues.

The initiative was moving along with workshops and district- and school-based committees planning for how to infuse CRSE into teaching practices.

And then the pandemic struck. And then all learning went online. The future of CRSE in NYC seemed at risk. Can CRSE be done online?

One of the key figures training educators in CRSE across NYC is Dr. Gholdy Muhammad of Georgia State University. Dr. Muhammad has some insights one what online and blended learning models might mean for CRSE in the months to come.

“If equity and culturally responsive practices weren’t happening before remote learning, it’s very likely it’s not happening during remote learning. Teachers who may have just gone to packets and worksheets a lot as their go-to learning mechanism in classrooms, probably would go to that during remote learning. That problem just transferred over to a new platform of learning. On the flip side of that, if teachers were doing equity work--however that looked because that can look different ways--I have found in my conversations and interactions with teachers across New York City and other places that that work continued. It just repurposed itself in different ways.

“The real question is: Are equity practices and culturally responsive practices possible in remote learning? And I wholeheartedly believe that it is. It was possible before, and it’s possible now. It doesn’t mean that because we have new challenges that we shouldn’t acknowledge that. Because we certainly have new challenges. However, it’s possible. We had different challenges in the classroom. But it was still possible then. So that’s what I’ve been working on over the last couple of months to help myself understand and then to help principals and teachers understand how it’s possible.”

This post is based on a recent episode of the “Extra Help with Inside Schools” podcast. You can find the entire episode here.

What place do culturally responsive-sustaining practices have in your school settings? I’d love to know. Tell me your thoughts in the COMMENTS section.