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October 2017
VABBing with Mindset

5 Tips to Introduce CLR to Your Students

By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

As you begin the CLR infusion process with the right mindset, there should be some thought about how to introduce the concept of CLR to your students. Needless to say, you will want to clue your students in on your CLR journey. One of the most frequent questions I get from teachers is, how do I discuss CLR with my students? Here are 5 tips for introducing VABB to your students:

Tip 1: Introduce and Use CLR Terminology

Introducing CLR is simply telling your students that you plan to validate, affirm, build, and bridge them when you talk to them, in how you relate to them, and in how you teach them. Explain what cultural responsiveness is in general, but be more specific when you discuss the concept of VABB. Talk about how we all have different cultural behaviors based on who we are and that some of those behaviors can be misunderstood or misinterpreted in some settings, which then leads to defining situational appropriateness. At the beginning of the school year, be explicit about defining school culture as a culture linked to academic settings and the dominant (mainstream) culture. Most importantly, distinguish culture from race and racism.

Tip 2: Explicitly Validate and Affirm Your Students

The explicit validation and affirmation of your students around their cultural behaviors is the key to CLR. VA-ing your students triggers the building and bridging, and by extension your students’ buy-in to being situationally appropriate. Your VA has to be intentional and purposeful, consistent and authentic, and proactive and reactive (i.e., using teachable moments).

Tip 3: Hold Your Students Accountable with Procedures and Structures

An annoying misconception about CLR is that it breeds classroom chaos, wild, out-of-control behaviors, and low expectations. None of these is true. It frustrates me when I see teachers not holding their students to the same standard with CLR activities that they do with other classroom activities. Or when teachers couch CLR as the “fun” time compared to the traditional time, when the students should be more serious. When done correctly, CLR is about high expectations, a set of how-to procedures for every activity, and structures that support an organized and efficient classroom dynamic. All of the CLR activities have rules, structures, and expectations.

Tip 4: Give Your Students Opportunities to Practice Situational Appropriateness

When do your students have the opportunity to practice situational appropriateness? Do you treat CLR and situational appropriateness like you treat practicing reading, math, choir, or art? Students need to practice navigating their cultural behaviors in the context of school culture. These opportunities should come proactively through planned instruction that includes the process of validation, affirmation, building, and bridging (or creating juxtapositions). Recall that an instructional juxtaposition is when you intentionally align a VA activity up against a BB activity, or vice versa. By creating juxtapositions, you allow students to toggle between home cultural behaviors and school cultural behaviors and expectations.

Tip 5: Give Your Students a Voice in the Work of Equity and CLR

When students buy-in to CLR and understand its purpose, the door is opened for giving them voice to the work. Beyond instruction, students are also given voice by becoming active participants in equity and responsiveness. They can do so by forming organizations, clubs, and groups that meet to discuss school- and society-related issues of race, culture, and equity. They meet with teachers to discuss how the school and district can be more culturally and linguistically responsive.  CLR instruction is transparent. There are no teacher secrets here. You want your students to know that there is a “method to your madness” with all the activities that you are using. Nothing is by accident. Let them know that they are a part of the “madness” in every way and you want to empower and inspire them to be better personally and academically.


October #BeYou
Focus Behavior:


“We” is more important than “me.” Culturally, students are more invested in the success of the whole class or their group than individual accomplishments. In the classroom, students practice of communalism is sometimes thought to be unfocused or “worrying about everybody else," so they are told mind your own business or are accused of cheating on their work.

September #BeYou Focus Behavior: Kinesthetic or Movement

August #BeYou Focus Behavior: Socio-centrism

See the skillset section of this issue for activities that validate and affirm communalism and for when students can #BeYou. See our website for the #BeYou campaign.

Order YOUR #BeYou Poster now at

October 2017 Mindset Knowledge Builder:

Click Image
VABBing with Skillset


#BeYou  - Communalism

As culturally responsive educators, we strive to build a strong community of learners in our classroom where our students trust and respect each other and learn from each other.  We strive for students to see commonalities and differences as assets to the classroom.  In addition, we want our students to look out for each other and show love and support to one another.  


By Gina Spoo, CLR Instructional Coach

We want to go beyond morning meeting greetings, games and activities by infusing instructional strategies that validate and affirm the element of communalism.

How do you VA collective success?  

When is the success of all students together valued?

Allow your students to be who they are culturally and linguistically by providing communal activities throughout the day to strengthen their learning and relationships.  Try some of the following activities:


#BeYou- Communal Style

Basic:   Round Robin Brainstorming + Scattegory Share-Out

Collective brainstorming and sharing… what gets better than that? Then add Scattegory Share-Out for the good of the group. BAM! You VABBed it!

Some prompts to get you started:

  • Classroom rules and expectations
  • Ways we can show each other support

  • Ways to show engagement in school

  • Content specific:  Ways to make 10; Words that mean mad (insert any Tier 1 word to develop synonyms); States in the Southwest; Science terms related to ________;  Ways to measure length;  Themes, predictions, inferences of a story; etc.

*Scattegory Share-Out happens once the Round Robin Brainstorming is over.  Groups share one idea at a time and other groups cannot repeat ideas.  Groups star ideas they have that other groups say and add ideas to their list if they don’t have it.  Whole group sharing continues until ideas are exhausted.  Scattegory Share-Out moves quickly!


Advanced:  Find Somebody Who + Pick A Stick + Train/Pass It On 

Collective answering of questions, solving problems, developing synonyms, etc.  This activity is all about collective success!  It also adds the cultural elements of movement and sociocentrism.


  • Before the activity, tell students that after a set amount of time (relative or precise), you will be pulling Sticks and using the Train protocol to hear some of the responses (heightens urgency). To succeed, they need to rely on each other and support each other.   Your build and bridge is with Sticks and Train which holds them individually accountable for the work and learning.

Premium:  Send A Problem and/or Quiz Quiz Trade
How do you have your students collectively do the following:

  • Study for a test
  • Build background knowledge
  • Review vocabulary words (Tier 2 & Tier 3)
  • Build synonyms for Tier 2 words
  • Review weekly high frequency words
  • Decide what properties of operations are in a problem
  • Name the order of operations needed to solve a problem
  • Spell weekly spelling words
  • Name fact families

Send A Problem  and Quiz Quiz Trade are similar activities that both support a student centered way to do the things above and will definitely add to the communal vibe in your class.  These activities have students do the creating of the question/answer card based on what they, the students,  think their peers need to know.  Teachers can also differentiate and create the cards.  Send a Problem and Quiz Quiz Trade build in movement, sociocentrism and communalism all in one.  It is an activity that says “Go Team! Let’s do this!”
Finally…  As you are planning your instruction, think about which students would benefit the most from these activities that VA communalism.  Round Robin Brainstorming, Find Somebody Who and/or Send A Problem/Quiz Quiz Trade support self-expression, choice, increase deeper connections to the content, and provide a fun learning environment that is sure to increase engagement.

Let’s hear from you!

Share about it with #BeYou  #CommunalStyle  @validateaffirm on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Responsive Reads


Check out this blog post with ideas for Communalism and Movement related strategies!  

Click image for link
Click the image below to see how the Turning Wheels discussion protocol validates/affirms communalism in San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

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