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

Worth the Risk: Towards Decentering Whiteness in English Language Teaching

In this article the author reveals how English Language Teaching (ELT) centers whiteness and its negative impact on teachers and students of color. The author also provides suggestions for how ELT educators can de-center whiteness in the ELT field.

On the “Flip” Side: A Teacher Educator of Color Unveiling the Dangerous Minds of White Teacher Candidates

Dr. Cheryl Matias teaches urban education courses at the University of Kentucky to prospective teachers, many of whom are White women. She identifies how the "white savior" narrative serves as a motivator for many of her students, and she examines its implications in the classroom. Dr. Matias also discusses the impact that her students’ whiteness ideology has on her as an educator of Color, and how she counteracts the psychological harm done to her through the “pedagogy of trauma.”

Code Switch

This podcast produced by NPR features episodes that explore the ways that race intersects with ethnicity, gender, religion and culture and its implications on our lives. The hosts and producers Shereen Marisol Maraji and Gene Demby both identify as BIPOC. They provide unique insights and reporting to topics relating to race.
Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency Resource Library »

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Latest Cultural Competency Articles

Increasing Cultural Competency for Adult Educators

ATLAS is excited to announce a growing number of resources for members of the ABE field to increase their cultural competency, including options for educators looking to fulfill license renewal requirements. Here’s a quick list of resources and training options; stay posted because more are on the way! Read More

Culture Care Connection

Did you know that PTSD, depression and anxiety are common among Somali refugees? Did you know that many Somalis will not admit to mental health problems or seek treatment due to negative perceptions and stigma, some of which are tied to cultural norms? Read More