Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness ~Nov. 2020~ #AISDEquity

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CP&I Vision

Provide ongoing, meaningful coaching and professional learning opportunities for Austin ISD staff to engage in critical self-reflection on their interaction with students and their families in a manner that considers the diverse needs of all. The goals and objectives for the office are focused on clearly communicating an equitable and responsive lens in all that we do. The Race Equity Council serves as our body of partners committed to the work and possessing the multiple perspectives to keep our focus on the vision.

CP&I Essential Questions

  • How do we utilize culturally proficient and inclusive ways of being to disrupt the predictability of success or failure by race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or immigration status?

  • How does Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness relate to culturally relevant teaching, culturally responsive teaching, culturally & linguistically sustaining pedagogy and educator praxis?

  • How do we shift our practices away from punitive, prescriptive, and deficit structures to practices that center identity safety where children learn, grow and lead?

We invite you to reflect on these questions and use them to guide the work that you do this year for our students, families, and community in Austin ISD.

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Cultural proficiency is

  • a framework

  • a lens

  • an inside/out process

The journey to Cultural Proficiency is a collective process. We cannot “do” cultural proficiency or “be” culturally proficient without working at it each day collaboratively with those who have different perspectives. The Cultural Proficiency Framework consists of four tools to aid us in this collective work, they are the guiding principles, barriers, continuum and the essential elements. Each provides us with support as we engage in this inside/out process to develop our individual cultural proficiency lens. In this newsletter we are focused on the guiding principles of cultural proficiency that “...serve as core values for people and organizations who hold culture as an asset and who are committed to being successful in cross-cultural interactions, both as a person and as a member of an organization”

Source: A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in Schools

The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency

  • Culture is a predominant force

  • People are served in varying degrees by the dominant culture

  • There is diversity within and between cultures

  • Every group has culturally-defined needs

  • People have personal identities and group identities

  • Marginalized groups must be at least bicultural to be successful in the dominant culture

  • Families, as defined by culture, are the primary system of support for their group members

  • The diverse thought patterns of cultural groups influence how they define and solve their problems

  • The absence of cultural competence anywhere is a threat to competent services everywhere

Source: Fish Out of Water list & CP Manual for School Leaders 3rd ed.

Last month we invited you to notice how you move around the compass as you engage in our current reality. This month we extend an Invitation to notice where you might linger longer on the compass. When we linger too long in one quadrant we move into unhealthy conversations, actions and experiences. Belief moves into disbelief, Feelings move to fear, thinking moves to ignorance and action moves to fatigue. We Invite you to find where you are on the compass as you read through the newsletter and where you might linger a little long.

Do different newsletter entries take you to a different place on the compass, or do you get stuck? Get curious about why you linger in one quadrant rather than another.

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What Matters to You? Engaging Students in the 2020 Election

This lesson, which can take place in a virtual or physical classroom, gives students a chance to reflect on the issues they care about in the 2020 presidential election. Students can consider their sources of information about election issues, and discuss polarization and the need to be able to talk with those whose opinions differ from ours. At the link below is a two-day activity: In day one, students share their thoughts about the election and decide on an issue that is important to them. In day two, having researched that issue, students make a short presentation to the class on the issue.


Post-Election Reflection

Students review and reflect on the news that former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris have been declared winners of the 2020 presidential election.


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Youth in Front: Understanding and Supporting Student-led Activism

Register at the link embedded below is an online course designed around promoting and discussing student-led voice in civic engagement. Our aim is to provide all educators with a historical lens as well as tools and frameworks to equip adults as allies and supporters in the development of youth voice and activism. We aim to promote dialogue around activism and equip educators with actionable resources they can use in their current contexts. In the course, students will visit numerous youth activists, educators and schools to navigate and learn from the complexities in promoting youth voice and activism.

To get started, create a free account on Catcat: Register here

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November is National Native American Heritage Month please join us by celebrating with special events on Thursday November 19th & Friday November 20th in collaboration with Austin ISD Parent Engagement Support Office, AISD Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness, AISD CARES, Great Promise for American Indians and Chickasaw storyteller Amy Bruton Bluemel.

To learn more and to register, please click the button below.

Teaching Thanksgiving from the Perspective of Native Americans

by Christina “Krea” Gomez

During the month of November, students all over the country can be found studying Native American culture and making cute little turkey hands in anticipation for Thanksgiving. Many teachers are hoping to achieve the goal of honoring the historical significance of Thanksgiving, but exploring this topic in an honest and meaningful way can be a challenge. While we wish to pay homage to the Europeans who braved the Atlantic ocean in search of a land where they could practice religious freedom, it is also necessary to recognize and teach about the tragic and heartbreaking impact this journey had on millions of American Indians as a result.

At our school, we have embraced the challenge of portraying this holiday in an honest way. We’ve successfully developed effective and age-appropriate strategies to do this, which we’re excited to share with you. Here are a few ways in which you can take the days leading up to this festive holiday as an opportunity in your classroom to not only discuss the real story of Thanksgiving, but to also discuss Native American resistance and some of our beautiful rituals.

  • Teach from the perspective of Native Americans
  • Teach about European settlers and their “discovery” of the Americas in a truthful way
  • Teach your students Native Americans are not a thing of the past
  • Teach about the most important Indigenous cultural lesson during Thanksgiving: gratitude
  • Teach about Native American history throughout the school year, not just in November

To read the full article click here.

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way

Educators have an ethical obligation to teach accurately about Thanksgiving. Here are some online resources that can help.

By Amanda Morris

Teaching about Thanksgiving in a socially responsible way means that educators accept the ethical obligation to provide students with accurate information and to reject traditions that sustain harmful stereotypes about Indigenous peoples. Thankfully, there are excellent online resources that can help educators interested in disrupting the hegemonic Thanksgiving story. To get the online resources, read the full article here.

Thinking about books you might read with your students? Check here first!

Not all children's and young adult books featuring Indigenous people do so with respect to accurate depictions of history and culture. This list from Dr. Debbie Reese, a tribally enrolled member of Nambé Pueblo and founder of American Indians in Children's Literature, offers culturally sustaining titles to share with students and colleagues. Click here to access the list.

A Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving for Educators and Families

Are you looking for resources to teach Thanksgiving in a culturally responsive way? Check out the resources compiled by Center for Racial Justice in Education here.

Lesson: Creating a Class Land Acknowledgement Statement

Students learn about the growing effort to acknowledge Indigenous people whose lands we inhabit - and create their own land acknowledgment statement. To access the lesson, click here.

How NOT to Teach Thanksgiving

Are you teaching about Thanksgiving in a historical and culturally sustaining way? Or are you relying on stereotypes and "cute" activities that erase the true history of Indigenous people? Learn more about why these kinds of activities are harmful here.
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Austin ISD No Place for Hate Campus Intent Due Nov. 16th!

Thank you for all you do daily and for the care and attention you provide to our students and families at this unprecedented time in our world. Thank you to those campuses who submitted your campus intent before the October 15 deadline. The ADL, our partner for No Place for Hate, recognizes the shift in this new reality and has provided Austin ISD with an extension of November 16 to communicate your campus intent to complete three activities this year.

If you have specific questions about your No Place for Hate activities/intent, please contact Jillian Bontke, Director of Education at the ADL. jbontke@adl.org

Anti-Defamation League Activity Guidance:

To meet the Anti-Defamation League's requirements, you should conduct three school-wide No Place for Hate activities each year. Two activities can be repeated from year to year (i.e., Mix It Up, No Name-calling Week). One activity must be new each year and must connect to an issue you have on campus. Analyze your campus climate survey data and use it to assist your No Place for Hate Coalition in deciding on a new activity idea that meets your campus's specific needs.

No Place for Hate Campus Intent information: Complete No Place for Hate 2020-21 Intent Here


No Place for Hate Virtual Adaptation Guide

2019-2020 No Place For Hate Resource Guide

NPFH Resources

Activity Guidelines

The No Place For Hate Promise:

Elementary – English

Elementary – Spanish

Resolution of Respect:
Middle and High School – English
Middle and High School – Spanish

More Resources:

ADL Pyramid of Hate

Bullying and Cyberbullying Strategies and Resources


Download our No Place for Hate® Coloring Book!

Available in Spanish and English

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Using Our Tools to Apply Our Learning

Austin ISD Harassment Policy and the ADL's Pyramid of Hate

Consider the force of culture, and how it impacts thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions during polarizing moments such as a presidential election season during an already-unprecedented year. The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency help to clarify how multiple - and even polar - perspectives are possible around a single issue. Political party lines, specific issues, and our ways of being and knowing are just a few examples of what can cause people who identify as members of a group (ex. within our classrooms, campuses, teams, districts) to splinter along lines of difference.

The CP&I Office often issues reminders that our professional learning sessions are neither sit-and-get nor one-and-done, given the emphasis on critical self-reflection, valuing multiple perspectives, and applying what is learned in each session. Two fine examples of this are tools highlighted in our session entitled Speak Up: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias, and Stereotypes -- the Austin ISD Harassment Policy and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Pyramid of Hate..

Harassment policies adopted by companies, districts, etc., help organizations align actions with our values. For example, the Austin ISD policy clearly lists protected identities within our system. This clarifies our jobs as district employees, but most importantly the policy communicates exactly what should not cause us to feel unsafe. From your perspective, how can the Austin ISD Harassment Policy be useful to our school communities in a meaningful, ongoing way?

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League's Pyramid of Hate shows everyday acts of bias and prejudice as foundational to - and supportive of - more extreme forms of hate, including genocide. All of our campuses can benefit from acknowledging that there are at least lower-level acts of harm happening across the district. Acknowledging harm in our buildings is the first step to improve our capacity to differ without predictably damaging the identity safety of one another.

From your perspective, how can the ADL Pyramid of Hate help ensure identity safety across Austin ISD in a meaningful, ongoing way?

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Who Gets to Thrive?

Education is a cornerstone of democracy and essential to our individual and collective success. Yet each day, young people, particularly Black, Indigenous, People Of Color (BIPOC) young people, in America are faced with the challenge of learning within education systems that perpetuate deep structural racism. How can insights from the science of learning and development empower each of us to transform policies and practices to dismantle racism and cultivate experiences that enable all young people to thrive?

The Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance is inviting field leaders to join a series of conversations, “Who Gets to Thrive? The Science of Learning and Development as a Tool for Anti-Racism.”


[Pt. 2] Who gets to thrive? How insights from the science of learning and development can help advance anti-racist, equitable learning environments and education practices

November 13, 4:00 PM-5:00 PM EST

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Let’s keep the conversations about race going …

In this month’s RaceTalk (ATX- Austin,TX) we will continue to engage in racial conversations as we explore our own pushback and triggers, and name systemic barriers that form as a result. How can we choose to still engage to dismantle inequities? We don’t know what we don’t know. Come prepared to listen and share. Let’s agree to stay in the conversation to talk about race.

  • WHAT: RaceTalks for Austin ISD Parents + Caregivers
  • WHEN:Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00pm
  • WHERE: Zoom (with Spanish interpretation + ASL, other)
  • Register at the RaceTalks website: https://racetalksatx.org/

Come prepared to listen and share. Let’s agree to stay in the conversation to talk about race.

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Archived CP&I Newsletters

Click here to access hundreds of resources from past CP&I Newsletters!

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