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.

Cultural Competency & Relicensure

Cultural Competency Training

There is a great deal more to cultural competency than using the right words or choosing multicultural readings. This PELSB-approved cultural competency training is aligned to MN Administrative Rule 8710.0310 Subpart 1D and introduces adult educators to concepts and skills needed to start on the journey to becoming a more culturally competent educator.

Study Circles

Antiracist Praxis Study Circle

In this 10-hour study circle, a small group of adult educators will work with a facilitator to explore how the research around Translanguaging by Ofelia García and Culturally Responsive Teaching by Zaretta Hammond provides us with tools to change the way we approach teaching.

Trauma-Informed Practices Study Circle

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

Understanding Heteronormativity in Language Teaching Materials

In this 20-minute video, Ashley Moore, author of the peer reviewed journal article "Understanding heteronormativity in ELT textbooks: A practical taxonomy", answers the questions: But what is "heteronormativity"? How does it manifest in language teaching materials? How can we, as language educators, combat heteronormativity effectively?

Translanguaging as an Antiracist Practice

In this recorded webinar, Minnesota adult English teacher Cydnee Sanders and Hamline University Professor Betsy Parrish define translanguaging and give tangible examples teachers can try in their classrooms. There are examples of vocabulary, reading and writing activities, plus some other things to consider in your classroom such as what to do if there is only one speaker of a language.

Problematizing Linguistic Integration of Migrants: The Role of Translanguaging and Language Teachers

In this article, Ofelia García defines translanguaging, gives a fascinating example of an adult language classroom, and redefines traditional teacher roles into 4 new roles: the detective, the co-learner, the builder, and the transformer. She gives us real examples to reflect on and to try in our classrooms.
Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency Resource Library »

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Latest Cultural Competency Articles

Check Out What’s New in the Antiracism in ABE Resource Library!

"Antiracism in ABE" is a large section of the Cultural Competency resource library on the ATLAS website. This summer we have been working to revamp the Antiracist Instruction category, since we know busy teachers are looking for specific things to use in their classrooms. Learn about a few of these great resources, including presentations by our own MN Adult Ed colleagues! Read More

Healing-Centered Learning Environments in Adult Education

MN Adult Education teachers joined Lucille Rosario, MSW, LICSW, to learn strategies for supporting themselves and learners who are experiencing the impact of trauma and stress on their mental and physical health, well-being, and classroom performance. These webinars were excellent, and extremely timely for burned-out teachers at the end of the year. Definitely worth a watch! Read More