Cultural Competency

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Culturally competent educators are able to interact effectively with people of different cultures, primary languages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In adult education, we work with a strikingly diverse groups of learners. Our classrooms are full of learners who differ by age, (dis)ability, physical and mental health, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, formal education, basic skill proficiency, and work and life goals, and who have varying levels of family/community support. Ours is no easy task!

In order to create effective conditions for learning, we need to be well aware of our own knowledge gaps and implicit biases, and work to deliver instruction in ways that are anti-racist, culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and pedagogically sound. ATLAS bases its efforts around cultural competency on the following sources:

Equity Statement – Minnesota Adult Education

The state office of Minnesota Adult Education offers the following equity statement, one that ATLAS works to support through our efforts related professional development:

The state Adult Education office is committed to creating educational equity.

  • We commit to recognizing the historical conditions and barriers that have prevented opportunity and success in learning for students based on their race, class, and other identities.
  • We commit to working to dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value, with a focus on racial equity.
  • We commit to fostering positive and effective learning environments for all by eliminating institutional policies that uphold oppressive systems of power and privilege.
  • We commit to collaboratively creating a learning community within the adult education system that promotes opportunities for self-reflection, growth, and change.

We see adult education as key to building educated, engaged, and just communities for all Minnesotans.

Cultural Competency – PELSB

In addition to the Minnesota Adult Basic Education office, PELSB (the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board) states:

Cultural competency training means a training program that promotes self-reflection and discussion including but not limited to all of the following topics: racial, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; American Indian and Alaskan native students; religion; systemic racism; gender identity, including transgender students; sexual orientation; language diversity; and individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns. Training programs must be designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of their own frames of reference, the potential bias in these frames, and their impact on expectations for and relationships with students, students’ families, and the school communities.

Study Circles

Trauma-Informed Practices Study Circle

COMING SPRING/SUMMER 2020: In this 12-hour study circle, a small group of adult educators will work with a facilitator, using a lens of “trauma-informed instruction” to deepen their best practices in working with adult learners in ways that are inclusive and culturally responsive. To do our work well, educators need to be aware of our own implicit biases, students’ possible experiences stemming from trauma in a myriad of forms, as well as implications for teaching and learning.

New Cultural Competency Resources

Taking Care of Yourself: A Checklist

This checklist outlines the three basic aspects of self-care – awareness, balance, and connection – and offers a list of ideas for self-care strategies to use after a difficult event. As the resource indicates, "There are several ways you can find balance, be aware of your needs, and make connections. Use this list to help you decide which self-care strategies will work for you."

SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

The authors explain, "The purpose of this paper is to develop a working concept of trauma and a trauma-informed approach and to develop a shared understanding of these concepts that would be acceptable and appropriate across an array of service systems and stakeholder groups.... The desired goal is to build a framework that helps systems 'talk' to each other, to understand better the connections between trauma and behavioral health issues, and to guide systems to become trauma-informed."

Call to Mind: Spotlight on Childhood Trauma

According to the website, Call to Mind is an initiative by MPR to inform and generate conversations about mental health. This podcast explores the impact of childhood trauma on mental health and suggests ways to build resilience in children. The impact of childhood trauma on adults is applicable to ABE practitioners.
Cultural Competency

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