Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity

Integrate More Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices into Your Classroom With This Free Tool

Are you looking to integrate more culturally responsive teaching practices into your classroom this year? Are you wondering how to get started? A classroom library inventory can be a great entry point. Our free tool, Assessing Multicultural Resources, from our book, Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity, provides the first step. To use this tool, it’s helpful to have some background on the concept of mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.

Understanding mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors

The concept of mirrors and windows was first described by Emily Style (1988) and then elaborated on by Rudine Sims Bishop (1990). Mirror books are books that readers feel represent themselves and their experiences. The characters and events feel familiar. In contrast, window books are books that represent the perspectives and experiences of others who are different from the readers. Window books can help readers learn about other cultures and other ways of understanding the world, and they can also support them in building empathy for different viewpoints. In her work, Bishop (1990) describes the way in which books can be sliding glass doors that allow us, as readers, to temporarily join the world created by the author. 

Why this tool?

All students benefit from classrooms and curricular materials that are rich in multicultural resources. Resources that are representative of the backgrounds and experiences of the students who fill your classrooms mean that all students can have an opportunity to see themselves represented in some of the materials (mirrors). At the same time, all students can have an opportunity to learn about the experiences of others who have different backgrounds and experiences (windows and sliding glass doors)

How to use the tool

Review your classroom library and/or the materials that you will use to support your curricular units and track representation on the tool. 

• Identify where there might be gaps in representation for multilingual learners in your classroom and seek out additional resources to create a more representative set of curricular resources. Consider collaborating with colleagues, especially librarians and media specialists, for resource-sharing and new ideas. Check out the SupportEd culturally responsive teaching resource library for more multicultural resources.  

Assessing Multicultural Resources-Multilingual-learners-english-learners-tools

• Identify if you have resources that present a biased view or a single perspective of a particular culture or group.

○   Jerry Craft, the author of New Kid described in an interview how so many of the books with Black protagonists included life changing catastrophic events, involving the police, death, or someone going to jail. He speaks about the importance of offering stories that kids can both relate to and be proud of.

○   As you look at your library and resources, do you feel that there is both sufficient representation and a well-rounded representation of the cultures and backgrounds of your multilingual learners?

  • Identify if you have a particular resource or set of resources that you want to integrate more prominently in your teaching because of the perspective they offer. Consider how you will include these resources and what supporting materials you might need.   

Explore More Culturally Responsive Teaching Resources
About SupportEd

SupportEd is a woman-owned business based in Fairfax, Virginia providing Multilingual Learner (ML) professional development, personalized coaching, technical assistance, and resources for educators across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2011 by Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, four-time best-selling author and ML expert, SupportEd builds authentic partner relationships and meticulously crafts customized solutions to fit every partner’s strengths and goals. SupportEd equips teachers and administrators with the practical tools and strategies necessary to champion MLs’ success within and beyond the classroom. Visit or call (202) 660-1444 to learn more.

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