Elizabeth Dara Cramer’s article, “Implementing Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Interventions in Supports in Middle School Classrooms,” highlights best practices for cultural responsiveness in the classroom. In most cases, learners in the middle class find it hard to learn because of the subtle assumptions filled with cultural bias from their teachers. The unequal learning opportunities that students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds in the US get make them have their prevalent education deficits (Cramer, 2015). This group is disproportionately represented in most areas of negative attention due to segregation.
Moreover, a number of factors explain the poor performance or underachivement of this group of learners. They include the cultural differences in expectations between students, poverty, and low teacher expectations. This issue is further escalated by the volatility of adolescence and the middle school level developmental changes. According to Cramer (2015), the general observation is that there is an overrepresentation of black people in restrictive settings. However, the same group is underrepresented in general education settings, thus the disparity. Those black children with a disability receive worse treatment than those without. For these reasons, the author suggests the implementation of culturally responsive positive behavior interventions at all stages of education to promote equity in educational matters.
The article gives a number of suggestions that can help make the school environment inclusive, supportive, inviting, and safe for all. Some of these include teachers creating a culture of respect and tolerance, encouraging all students, and enabling them to feel accepted (Cramer, 2015). Through this, educators will look at themselves and be aware of their biases, which they will own. This is only possible through critical self-awareness to avoid feelings of all forms of prejudices and stereotypes. Another intervention is home-school collaboration, which helps create a culturally responsive positive behavior in schools. Cramer (2015) also adds that the curriculum should appropriately inclusive of the interests and experiences of students so that they cannot display problem behaviors. One way to do this is to have a multicultural focus on the typically marginalized groups.
Furthermore, the author identifies instruction as another way to promote cultural responsiveness. Incorporating culturally relevant practices as one of the evidence-based strategies can help ensure appropriate instruction for all students in the class. The affected learners can benefit from the use of peer-facilitated instruction. When these evidence-based approaches are applied, they result in better academic and social outcomes for students. The last intervention that Cramer (2015) suggests is the use of a culturally responsive class management system. This practice can help include those items that can reinforce students in their academic journey as each learner has a unique story. These are the interventions that the author is suggesting in the article, which can help reduce the subtle cultural bias assumptions.
Critical Evaluation of the Article
The article asked the right question in the first place; how best to address the issue of underrepresentation of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in education settings. In particular, the article emphasized how prevalent this issue is at the middle school level. Also, these studies align well with others under the same topic. However, the article did not consider the challenges learners from culturally diverse backgrounds face in higher education settings. Cramer (2015) approached other education experts to hear their thoughts about this issue to address this problem. The author narrates her firsthand experience from observing students’ behaviors, while other observations came from education experts in collaboration with an experienced special education teacher. After her observations, Cramer reported the findings clearly and consistently. I did not notice any problems in the data which the article overlooked.
However, the article failed to acknowledge and explain any limitations during the study or observation. When learners are subjects, it is hard to notice their behaviors, mostly because they come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The author failed to identify such a conspicuous limitation. Nevertheless, the logic was clear, supported with convincing data, but I spotted some fallacies. One of them is that educators need to own their biases in their instruction and interaction with students. This is not an innate trait, and it should be emphasized in educational training institutions. The other one is the home-school collaboration to help reduce the subtle bias assumptions. This is only true if both parents and teachers have the right mindset. As such, the author ignored to mention that there is a need for sensitization among teachers and parents.
My Opinion of the Article
I agree with the article’s central idea, and I believe its findings are well presented and reliable. This is a useful program that can be adopted in the classroom to help reduce understated bias assumptions. Students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds indeed underperform because of a problem they never created. Although they work so hard in their academics, these learners continue to be victims of segregation based on social class, race, and disability. The article has been accurate in identifying factors for underachievement among this group of learners, which include poverty, language, cultural differences between the expectations of teachers and students, and low teacher expectations. To this end, I am convinced that this article contributes immensely to knowledge and is very applicable, especially in reducing bias and stereotypes at the middle school level to ensure equally structured learning opportunities.
Cramer, E. D. (2015). Implementing culturally responsive positive behavior interventions and supports in middle school classrooms. Middle School Journal, 46(3), 18–24.