Scholars Alim and Paris (2017) define culturally sustaining pedagogies as teaching that “seeks to perpetuate and foster–to sustain–linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism as part of schooling for positive social transformation” (p. 1). Our work in Project LEARN seeks to enact culturally and linguistically sustaining curriculum, pedagogy, and policy in order to disrupt educational processes that marginalize newcomer and emergent plurilingual students and render them as “other.”

Educators in Project LEARN work to intentionally affirm and amplify the cultural and linguistic identities of students and their communities, rather than continuing to socialize them into monocultural, monolingual schooling cultures. Students’ lives, cultures, and plurilingualism are not only valued and celebrated by educators, but are strategically incorporated into every aspect of their practices, classroom, and curriculum. This means challenging traditional forms of schooling that position teachers as the sole possessors of knowledge in the classroom (Freire, 2018/1970) and shifting towards liberatory and sustaining ways of teaching that actively include and amplify students' voices and autonomy throughout the learning process. Through these culturally sustaining pedagogies, educators disrupt traditional, hierarchical teaching structures and become co-learners alongside their students. 

By shifting to culturally and linguistically sustaining forms of teaching, educators and students share and leverage their own cultural and linguistic assets; learn from and celebrate each others’ identities, languages, and cultures; and re-envision classrooms as “radically inclusive” spaces of creativity, co-learning, and collaboration (Dover & Rodríguez-Valls, 2022). Rather than adopting a scripted set of strategies or curriculum, culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogies make space for students and teachers to co-design their learning experiences, honor one another's identities, and cultivate a sense of comunidad and confianza within the classroom. 


Alim, H. S., & Paris, D. (2017). What is culturally sustaining pedagogy and why does it matter? In D. Paris & H. S. Alim (Eds.), Culturally sustaining pedagogies: Teaching and learning for justice in a changing world (pp. 1-21). Teachers College Press.

Dover, A. G., & Rodríguez-Valls, F. (2022). Radically inclusive teaching with newcomer and emergent plurilingual students: Braving up. Teachers College Press. 

Freire, P. (2018/1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Academic.