Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness~Oct. 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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As I supported campuses the last two weeks and engaged with teachers in the CP&I Leadership Pathway, I reflected on my tendency to hold my breath when in tense or stressful situations. I shared a breathing exercise with the teachers as we engaged in a community building circle and going through the motions of that breathing exercise reminded me to breathe. It reminded me to take care of my mental and physical health.

When we get in the rush and begin to develop a routine for the new school year, we at times get complacent and forget to listen to our bodies. This year is like no other new school year we’ve seen before. We will have multiple days and months where we start over. Each time we start over, we have to focus our minds on our own reflection, and pay attention to the emotional place we enter into school and central office spaces. We are indeed all in this together and there is a lot of uncertainty in our future.

I offer you the following breathing exercise in hopes that it may help you slow down, listen to your body, and remember to breathe when things get rushed or stressful.

  • First, settle into your seat and, if able, connect with the ground below you. Take a moment to notice how your feet support you and remember how they hold you during your day. Our feet connect us to the earth which is always beneath us.
  • Now,, locate your breathing and notice it. Is it deep? Is it shallow? Is your belly moving with the breath?
  • Slowly deepen your breathing. As you do so, see if you can make your exhale longer than your inhale.
  • Silently pay attention to your breath for the next 5-6 slow breaths.
  • When you’re ready, notice your seat, listen to your surroundings, and take one last mindful breath before you continue with your day.

Please take care of yourself. You are important and you matter.

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Learn About the Work of Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness from CP&I Specialists Bavu Blakes and Sara Freund in the Podcast Below

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Cultural Proficiency is an inside out approach to the way we do our work. The Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) protocol from the Pacific Education Group (PEG), in particular the Compass, is a valuable tool that can support us for the inside work and the outside work during these unsettled times. The compass invites us to slow down and mindfully check in with where we are and what’s coming up for us as we re-enter school buildings and interact with children, their families and our colleagues. The compass offers us a tool for mindful reflection that can increase our self-awareness and enhance our ability to work with others in responsive and restorative ways.

When we think of the compass, we want to find ways to get centered and understand what thoughts, feelings, and beliefs inform our actions. During this time, fear can be a dominant emotion we experience. It is important for us to acknowledge our fear and other emotions. Acknowledgment invites us to discover what thoughts, beliefs, and circumstances our emotions come from so we are able to reflect, and thereby prevent ourselves from reacting to children and families in our school buildings from a place of fear. Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, shared his wisdom in the image below about fear.

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“Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.” ~Rumi

How do we ensure we are not moving the way fear makes us move? What actions can we take to be responsive not reactive? When it’s time to respond, what’s the best way to communicate to limit fear, confusion or harm?

After working ourselves around the compass and noticing the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs we are holding, we can then choose our actions intentionally. We can also notice where others are showing up on the compass. Then we can consider how we want to respond.

In Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices (CRRP) we use Affective Statements and Questions to communicate our feelings and needs. Marshall B. Rosenberg offers a frame for affective statements and questions and calls this way of communicating non-violent communication. Non-violent communication holds space for real emotions and experiences, and creates a way for you to clearly express your feelings and what you’re going through without criticizing, placing blame, or harming others. Take a look at the links below to support you as you interact with children, families, and colleagues during this difficult time.

Here is a list of feelings and needs all humans experience: https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/feelings_needs.pdf

Here is an outline of the non-violent communication process: https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/pdf_files/4part_nvc_process.pdf


How do we ensure we are not moving the way fear makes us move?

What actions can we take to be responsive not reactive?

When it’s time to respond, what’s the best way to communicate to limit fear, confusion or harm?

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Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices in Austin ISD

October 21st

4:45pm - 6:30pm

Registration for Austin ISD staff

Registration for Austin ISD community

November 5th


Registration for Austin ISD Staff

Registration for Austin ISD community

In Austin ISD our definition of Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices is: Creating a campus environment where students, parents, and staff nurture trusting relationships, are invited to share and be their authentic selves, and have a sense of belonging and connection in the campus community. So what does it take for you to share your authentic self in your school? What protocols, structures, processes and ways of being can foster a campus culture and climate that fulfills Austin ISD's Theory of Change creating spaces that are psychologically, physically and emotionally safe for students to learn?

Speak Up: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias, and Stereotypes

October 28th


Austin ISD staff can register soon in the HCP session #96160 (check back here for link by Friday)

Registration for Austin ISD community

This session is in partnership with the Austin ISD Parent Engagement Support Office and will provide an opportunity to learn with colleagues and community members, share practice, & build language to disrupt biased language. As the largest No Place For Hate district in the nation, Austin ISD is committed to providing a psychologically, physically, & emotionally safe environment for all of our students which means we need to be prepared to engage in difficult dialogue to nurture safe, welcoming & inclusive schools. In this interactive 3-hour Zoom session, you will become familiar with the Austin ISD board policy on harassment, examine the ADL's Pyramid of Hate, learn strategies to speak up, & practice interrupting biased language or stereotypes when it happens in our classrooms, schools, community, or online spaces.

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Resources for CP&I Personal Learning

Click here for Resources for Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness: Developing AntiRacist Classroom Spaces (Also, scroll to the bottom for links to our past CP&I Newsletters that are full of even more resources...)

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Austin ISD Race Equity Council Updates

The Community & Family Engagement group:

This Race Equity Council group is partnering with Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness, the Equity Office, ACPTA, Parent Engagement Support Office, and Families as Partners to provide RaceTalks that "open a door for Austin ISD parents and caregivers to start a conversation about race in our community.” The next session is Tuesday, October 20th at 7:00pm and the topic is Exploring Pushback and Triggers and Naming the Systemic Barriers That Form as a Result. Join us!

  • WHAT: RaceTalks for Austin ISD Parents + Caregivers
  • WHEN:Tuesday, October 20th 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.

The Student Leadership group
Our Student Leadership group remains focused on its goal to intentionally elevate student agency to advocate for equity through the launch of the district-wide Student Equity Council. We are collaborating with Equity Meets Design in structuring the districtwide Student Equity Council, then recruiting and convening our first group of high school students this semester. Through their own collaborative action, students will develop not only the lens through which to identify educational inequity, but also the communication and advocacy skills to co-create campus climate and culture that affirms and supports all students, families, and staff.

The Professional Learning group

This Race Equity Council group is currently focused on creating a plan of action for the work they will do together around professional learning during this school year. Questions they are considering as they craft their goals and actions:

  • During this current reality when we are having to do things differently, how might we reimagine professional learning around cultural proficiency, equity, and antiracism
  • How can this group be a catalyst for that change?
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Walk With Me Austin
While cities across the nation mourn the myriad uncertainties of 2020, more than 45 native and resident musicians from Austin, Texas have joined forces to produce “Walk with Me Austin,” a powerful anthem created to inspire and unite the City of Austin during a pivotal time in the U.S. Available for download and streaming, “Walk with Me Austin” brings hope to the community while addressing matters of social and racial injustice, civil unrest, equality and the global coronavirus pandemic. More at: https://walkwithmeaustin.com/


What feelings come up for you after watching the "Walk With Me Austin" music video?

What emotions entered your mind, and maybe even your body, as you watched it?

How does noticing our feelings help us deal in times of uncertainty?

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Pyramid of Hate

Above is the Pyramid of Hate from the Anti-Defamation League who sponsors No Place For Hate. Austin ISD is the largest No Place for Hate School district in the United States for the 7th year (SY 2019-20) in a row. The Pyramid of Hate shows biased behaviors, growing in complexity from the bottom to the top. Although the behaviors at each level negatively impact individuals and groups, as one moves up the pyramid, the behaviors have more life-threatening consequences. Like a pyramid, the upper levels are supported by the lower levels. If people or institutions treat behaviors on the lower levels as being acceptable or “normal,” it results in the behaviors at the next level becoming more accepted. In response to the questions of the world community about where the hate of genocide comes from, the Pyramid of Hate demonstrates that the hate of genocide is built upon the acceptance of behaviors described in the lower levels of the pyramid.

When we look at the very bottom layer, we see that acts of bias includes jokes, rumors, stereotyping, non-inclusive language, and insensitive remarks. We hear a lot of this language in schools and the next level, acts of prejudice, is built upon these unchallenged remarks. Acts of prejudice also include biased language that is even more targeted and intentional. But remember, the upper levels are supported by the lower levels and so if we interrupt biased language in the bottom level, we don’t allow it to escalate.

Differing Beliefs

As we move closer to the 2020 election, consider how differing beliefs may lead to biased language and harm. It is important that educators and campus leaders are prepared to interrupt harm and support students when harm occurs because we are seeing an escalation as we get closer to November 3rd. In addition to being prepared to speak up when we hear biased language, it’s equally important that we teach students how to engage in civil discourse. Students need to be able to share their own beliefs and also listen to multiple perspectives that might be different from their own. Below are resources from Facing History that are designed to help students think critically about the role of elections, voting, and civic participation in creating and sustaining a just and healthy democracy. https://www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events/teaching-resources-2020-us-election#after-election-day


How do your beliefs relate to the upcoming election?

How might your beliefs conflict with another person?

How can adults and children practice learning from different perspectives?

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Please click the article title, "Are Teachers Ok?", to prompt your thinking. Write or draw some of your wonderings as you reflect. Have you experienced this as you’ve transitioned to face-to-face learning and returned to buildings? What has helped you stay grounded during this time? How do you feel the most safe?


What questions came to mind?

What connections came to mind?

What information do you need?

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Equality University: Texas State Student Diversity and Inclusion Conference

Saturday, November 14, 2020 | 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM | Zoom

Equality University is a diversity and inclusion conference that brings individuals together to participate in a day of dialogue and features national speakers. Equality U is an opportunity for you to engage in authentic peer connections, explore and understand how identities impact individual relationships, groups and social dynamics, and prepare you for success in a global society.

For more information and to register: https://www.sdi.txstate.edu/EqualityUniversity.html

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Dismantling Systemic Racism in Education

A 10 Week Webinar Series- Register at any time throughout the series!
September 16 - November 18, 2020
Wednesdays from 5:00-6:30pm Central Time

When entering the classroom, students and teachers are met with systematic racism at every turn. By looking at who writes and is represented in curriculum, textbooks, and education policy, we can begin to understand the education system in the United States. This 10 week webinar series will scratch the surface answering the questions "How did we get here," "Where are we now?" and "What can we do about it?" in regard to raising issues of equity and implementing anti-biased, anti-racist education across the country. President Johnson sought to increase access in education with over 60 pieces of legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Higher Education Act, and Bilingual Education Act. Continuing President Johnson's legacy of prioritizing education, the LBJ Library will host this webinar series to give information and tools to educators and stakeholders to affect change in their schools and communities.

Register here: http://www.lbjlibrary.org/events/dismantling-systemic-racism-in-education?fbclid=IwAR0Xas6ytR0-p7gPJlfz0yKuLDQ4FywPFmjXGJpdnTtif8I7PXBBi4ruJnU

Archived CP&I Newsletters

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

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