Have you ever heard the saying, “you gotta use what you got to get what you want?” I heard this saying during my adolescent years and I swear you might look at me a little different if y’all knew how where I heard this at #dontjudgeme.

Whether you’ve heard this phrase before or not, it is a phrase you need to keep at the front of your mind when you think about the students in your classroom and how to ensure you are creating an environment where they can be socially and academically successful. 

Use what you have to get what you want. 

So, when you look at your classroom, what is it that you have?


Your culturally diverse and unique students. The students who come from homes and communities that are culturally wealthy. How are you using this wealth? 

What they do in their freetime. The music they are listening to. And even the latest dance crazes on Tik Tok, all of this and more is cultural capital. 

Do you understand what makes these cultural aspects valuable to your students and your classroom?

And, How are you using the capital your students possess?

Understanding the capital that your students possess can be the one thing you were looking for to transform your learning environment. Even the most outdated lesson plans can get a new facelift by making small tweaks to reflect students’ individual and collective cultural capital. 

But, first, you have to know your students and study them daily to understand what cultural capital they possess. Studying your students, on their terms, will give you all the information you need to design R.E.A.L. lessons that will engage all students. 
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to understanding your students’ cultural capital, I’ve got you covered! Check out my latest Instagram post where I share the four questions I walk educators through to identify students’ cultural capital. And, if you need a little more, check out this Teacher-Student Self Assessment and use it as a guide to building your knowledge base on how to use what your students have (interest in and passion about) to get the results you want.