Culturally and Linguistically Responsive (CLR) Teaching

  • Classroom District 15 is quickly becoming a model district for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (CLR) through its dedication in implementing the practice across all 20 of its schools. 

    CLR is professional development that equips teachers with the tools to build students’ academic capacity while validating and affirming their home language and culture. This process builds and bridges students' ability to be successful in school.

    Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching Implementation Recommendation Within the next three years, all of District 15's schools will be CLR-trained facilities. The district has also launched its first lab classroom to serve as a model for D15 teachers to learn the CLR strategies and tactics.


    CLR is not a ‘program’ but a mindset for staff and students, which allows for the creation of equitable classrooms where all students feel affirmed and validated and are equal members of the classroom community. Through specific and targeted professional development and coaching, school staff are led to develop both a mindset and skillset, which allows them to make classroom equity a reality for our students.

    The classroom is where we prepare ALL students to be college and career ready and skilled teachers know that education extends well beyond academic standards. CLR provides the professional development necessary to equip our teachers with the tools to build students’ capacity in academic vocabulary, literacy, language and social appropriateness; to validate and affirm students’ home language and culture, while building and bridging capacity to be successful in ‘school culture’. Too often, the word culture is narrowly associated with race and ethnicity, however in CLR the ‘Rings of Culture’ include: age; orientation; nationality; socio- economic status, religion, gender, and ethnicity.

    Method and Process

    A schools’ CLR Journey begins with two full day trainings by the author of “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching, Dr. Sharrocky Hollie. These trainings have been attended by hundreds of District 15 staff with the overwhelmingly repeated feedback such as, “We should have done this YEARS ago-all PD should be like this!” This professional development provides the background in the CLR method called ‘The Journey to Responsiveness’ where mindsets are developed, implementation of engagement protocols are explicitly taught to, and practiced by our teachers. After completing the two day training, teachers are eligible to receive one on one coaching in implementing the CLR engagement protocols in their classroom. The protocols (ways of ensuring all students are engaged in classroom activities) are practiced in the trainings and then refined in the teacher’s own classroom through their work with the CLR coach. The protocols focus on:

    • Attention Signals
    • Movement Activities
    • Response Protocols
    • Extended Collaboration

    Through the use of the CLR protocols, teachers address:

    • Classroom Management
    • Academic Vocabulary (Speaking)
    • Academic Literature
    • Academic Language (Writing)

    Best Practice in Education

    The pedagogy supporting CLR is not new. Two of the most highly regarded researchers in education, Robert Marzano and John Hattie, share the affirmation that the strategies used in this CLR example, are paramount to increasing the achievement of all students.

    The article, "8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On" outlines both Hattie and Marzano's thoughts on educational pedagogy that are in alignment with our implementation of CLR and evidenced in the classroom video.

    • Clear Focus for the Lesson (fiction or non-fiction).
    • Overt Instruction (Teacher uses clear and precise language as well as visuals throughout and 'shows' students what they need to do to be successful. Students are shown exactly where to place fiction or non-fiction card on the poster).
    • Recall Just Taught Information (teacher asks 'what did I just do?'—students are asked to tell a friend, which increases language usage and engagement).
    • Students Work Together (students work in pairs first to determine if book is fiction or non-fiction).

    Timeline and Next Steps

    This link provides an infographic detailing the recommended implementation timeline for CLR districtwide. Title One funds have been and will continue to be used to support this initiative in Title One Schools. Non-title schools however will need to be supported using district funds and will need to be budget for during the 2021-2022 school year (assuming boundary changes do not reflect changes in some schools’ Title One status). The projected district (non-Title) expenditure recommended for 21-22 is approximately $500,000 to allow for teacher training and in classroom coaching. The support needed for the 19-20 and 20-21 school years will come exclusively from Title funds.

    Please take a few minutes to view this three minute classroom video which shows several of the CLR strategies/protocols in action. In particular, please watch for the strategies the teacher uses to keep students engaged, how student to student conversations are facilitated by the teacher, and the clarity of the teacher's instructions to the students

    CLR in second grade.

    In District 15, teaching and learning is more than just understanding math, science and literacy. We also teach cultural inclusivity through our Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching curriculum. Check out our lab classroom at Jane Addams to learn more about how the program is changing school dynamics.