Equity and Student Engagement: Interview with Zaretta Hammond

Zaretta Hammond, a former teacher and college writing instructor, is an influential curriculum designer and trainer who works with school districts on issues of equity, literacy, and culturally responsive instruction. She is the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (Corwin, 2014), which positions culturally responsive teaching as a method for honing cognitive capacity in students and supporting independent learning and agency. She is currently working on a book on instructional equity.

The interview asks the questions:

  • Where do you see student engagement fitting into instructional equity?
  • What common mistakes do you see schools making in terms of student engagement, particularly with respect to students who may be struggling?
  • Are there specific principles educators can glean from the science of learning—another long-time focus of yours—to set the conditions for greater intellectual curiosity and engagement?
  • You've talked of trying to marry the science of learning with culturally responsive teaching. Where do you see the need for convergence?
  • From an equity standpoint, how do you think schools can best address the issue of "learning loss" or instructional gaps from the pandemic?
  • How concerned are you that the focus on loss might make schools double down on compliance-driven education?
  • What's your advice to school leaders to avoid watering down learning?
  • As an instructional expert, what makes you most hopeful in what you are seeing as schools reopen this year?
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