Equitable Instructional Practices

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About this Strand

In contrast to the Anti-Racist Curriculum and Learning Standards strand which examines educators’ materials, standards, and plans, the Equitable Instruction strand zooms in on daily instruction as it happens live in the classroom. Ultimately, equitable instruction fosters an interdependent community where all students contribute and learn successfully.

Leading Educators Leading Educators
“Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is all the rage in education these days and everyone is looking to it to quickly close achievement gaps...Too often, it's presented as a ‘bucket of engagement strategies,’ because we think it’s all about raising student self-esteem. Others will say it’s all about relationships. In reality, the purpose of culturally responsive pedagogy is to help traditionally marginalized and under-served students become empowered, independent learners.”
Zaretta Hammond
How might you use this?

There are many ways to make these resources fit your needs (and probably plenty more ideas you could add!). Here are some suggested ways to think about your entry point.

To think holistically about how to provide all students multiple ways to access to knowledge and make meaning.

To coach or assist classroom educators in developing intellectually demanding and affirming instructional practices.

To define a vision for strong and support instructional practice across classrooms.

To understand the connection between daily instruction and the opportunities all students need to be prepared for their next step.

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What this Strand Covers

Every student should have access to rigorous content and higher-level thinking tasks. Educators should consistently gather information about students’ learning to design and facilitate experiences that capture students’ interest and spark engagement with relevant and rich tasks. Equitable instruction creates multiple entry points and differentiated supports. All of this should foster a sense of intellectual curiosity and agency toward the increasing demands of college and career readiness standards, the responsibilities of critical citizenship, and skills and habits of mind necessary to thrive in life. 

Beliefs and success

Guiding Questions:

  • Who is doing the heavy cognitive lifting in my classroom? What is the teacher:student ratio of talk in my classroom? 
  • What is the balance of teacher-directed and student-centered learning in my classroom?
  • Who has power? Who is disempowered? Who is talking? Who is silenced?
  • How does my planning prepare me to meet the needs of individuals during instruction?
  • How do my own preferences influence my decisions? What is my own learning style? How does this inform the learning modalities I offer?
Explore the Framework
Potential Pitfalls

Even with good intentions, there is the potential to harm students. Our full framework identifies common risks to avoid in your planning. Here are a few examples:


Failing to provide students access to grade-level content and instruction denies them critical opportunities to do higher-order thinking.

  • There is a careful balance to strike between meeting individual needs and maintaining rigor. Watch out for over-scaffolding as well as the absence of tailored supports.
“Rescuing” students
  • There can be a tendency to “help” students with cognitive work or fill silences. Doing so actually centers the teacher’s thinking and comfort.
Exclusionary Practices
  • Using pedagogy that reinforces white supremacy culture, racism, sexism, ableism, etc. can make some students feel that school isn’t “for them.”
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Take Action

Ready to make changes in your practice? Head over to our action center!

Over the next year, we’ll be listening and learning with the goal of lifting up stories that make this vision more actionable. Using these practices in your context will help educators across the country learn more of what works for equity.

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