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 Instruction 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

Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

This book offers educators tools to increase democratic participation in the classroom and to think about education as a practice of freedom. From the back cover: "Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for the author, the teacher's most important goal."

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Brazilian educational activist Paulo Freire originally published the seminal book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed in 1968. This book is essential reading for any educator interested in adult literacy and equity. Freire explains how traditional schooling perpetuates colonization and domination over oppressed classes of people and the way to liberation is through literacy and evoking critical consciousness in education.

Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package

According to the website: "The Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package offers school and district administrators and staff a framework and roadmap for adopting a trauma-sensitive approach school- or districtwide. The Training Package includes a variety of resources for educating school staff about trauma and trauma-sensitive practices and for providing school leaders with a step-by-step process for implementing a universal, trauma-informed approach using package materials."
Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency Resource Library »

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Latest Cultural Competency Articles

Cultural Competency Resources for Adult Education

ATLAS's online Cultural Competency resource library has been gradually expanding since its launch in October 2020. Check out some of the newest updates and recommended resources from this growing collection! Read More

Increasing Cultural Competency for Adult Educators – Upcoming Relicensure Training

ATLAS is pleased to offer a growing number of resources for members of the ABE field to increase their cultural competency, including a 2-part, PELSB-approved training in April that meets the new Cultural Competency relicensure requirements. Here’s a quick list of training options and resources; stay posted because more are on the way! Read More