Community Forums on Curriculum Updates
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Melanie Ward shared the NYSED Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Framework and updates to Pittsford’s K-12 social studies and English language arts curriculum at two community forums held in August. Links to videos of the two events and a Q&A can be found here:
ASL interpretation services were provided during the events and are included in the videos posted on the PCSD YouTube page.
Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education
Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education is about ensuring all of our students – every single child – understands that they are important and they are a priority. It is about how we interact in classrooms to create an environment where every child can reach their full potential and prepare for success in the world.
This is a student-centered approach and includes supporting teachers in their attempts to connect and build relationships with their students. Schools in our area and PCSD have been using this research-based approach for more than five years, and in 2018, New York State began developing the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Framework, which districts were to implement in 2019.
PCSD believes that good things happen when we put people in a supportive environment where they feel they are welcome, that they are seen and that they have a voice.
What’s the difference between Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education and Critical Race theory?
Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education is a NYSED required, research-based approach to how we interact in the classroom, in an attempt to connect with each student and help create an environment where everyone reaches their full potential.
Critical Race Theory is a term that is being used a lot recently, but is not being taught in our schools. Critical Race Theory is about challenging historical approaches to the teaching of topics connected to race. It is a social and legal construct, typically discussed in university settings.
In Pittsford, we value the expertise of our teachers as being content specialists with a deep understanding of their standards, knowledgeable about child and adolescent development, and experts at the craft of teaching. This is why we engage them in writing curriculum for all disciplines. We have, however, become increasingly attuned to the obligation we have to consider who is, and who is not, at the table when we engage in important work related to our curriculum.
Key Terms to Know
Cultural Proficiency: An ongoing process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, genders, ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, abilities and other diversity factors, in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each. Cultural proficiency functions as a world view, a perspective, a mindset, and a guide to how we lead our lives. The Pittsford Central School District is committed to culturally proficient practices in all that we do, all that we teach, and all that we learn.
Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Framework: The name for the required guidelines New York State developed in 2018 and shared with local districts to guide their implementation of Culturally Responsive Education.
Learning Standards: New York State defines learning standards for each subject area and grade level. Each set of standards define the knowledge and skills students are expected to be able to demonstrate over time as a result of instruction and learning experiences. This is not voted on or approved by local boards of education.
Curriculum: Districts take the core learning standards established by the state and determine how best to deliver the content. In Pittsford, our curriculum documents are developed by our teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators to layout the pathway for our students meet the standards established by the state.
Lesson Plans/Unit Plans: Lesson plans and unit plans are developed by individual teachers, or by groups of teachers working with colleagues who teach the same content. They are aligned to the curriculum, and reflect the day to day experiences in the classroom that are designed to support the specific group of students in that classroom to meet the curricular expectations.
Culturally Responsive Curriculum: A curriculum that respects learners’ cultures and prior experiences. It acknowledges and values the legitimacy of different cultures, not just the dominant culture of a society, and encourages intercultural understanding. It incorporates cultural aspects into the curriculum, rather than adding them on as an extra or separate module or course.
Critical Race Theory: A social and legal construct typically used in university settings to discuss and challenge historical approaches to the teaching of topics connected to race.