Cultural awareness; Minority students; Special education; Teachers


Despite America’s increasingly diverse classroom membership, new teachers, who continue to be primarily Caucasian middle-class females, are provided with few opportunities to develop a depth of understanding of cultures other than their own. To further complicate matters, many P-12 students are students determined to have disabilities. Since the inception of special education legislation in the 1970s, concerns were raised about the overrepresentation of students of color in special education (Dunn, 1968) and these concerns persist today (Donovan & Cross, 2009). In an effort to address these issues, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Standards (NCATE, 2008) and individual state agencies such as the Colorado’s Department of Education (CDE), have outlined a number of performance-based standards and professional dispositions required of educators. This paper explores and evaluates a variety of learning activities we have used in teacher preparation with the intended outcome of developing our students’ culturally responsive teaching and supporting their understanding of the complexities involved with the overrepresentation of students of color in special education.