The Tools of Cultural

For the Placer Union High District
Presenter Greg Sloan

From Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, Lindsey R., et. al
Cultural Proficiency Is
A way of being that enables one to respond effectively in a variety of cultural
settings to the issues that emerge in diverse environments

As we go through the four tools
you will see the problem with
retaining the status quo and
why this change is necessary.
The Four Tools of Cultural Proficiency
1. The Barriers - caveats that assist in overcoming resistance to change
2. The Guiding Principles - underlying values of the approach
3. The Continuum - language for describing both healthy and non-
productive policies, practices, and individual values and behaviors
4. The Essential Elements - behavioral standards for measuring and
planning for growth toward cultural proficiency
The Barriers to Cultural Proficiency
• Systems of oppression - must be
understood apart from personal
• A sense of privilege and
entitlement - those who benefit
can choose to not see the negative
effects on others
• Unawareness of the need to
adapt - resistant educators
experience change as judging their
practices deficient
The Barriers to Cultural Proficiency cont.
• We can learn - educational practices used by those who understand the
oppression-entitlement continuum result in positive educational
experiences for students regardless of their social status

• Paradigms can change - rules used to judge appropriateness have
changed and will continue to do so

• Change is beneficial - release attachment to the old ways, commit to the
future, and embrace the new
The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency
How do your school’s mission and vision statement differ
from your practices?
This tool is a response to the barriers and should be used as a guide for
professional practice to remain mindful of your values.
• Culture is a predominant force; you cannot not have a culture
• People are served in varying degrees by the dominant culture
• The group identity of individuals is as important as their individual
• Diversity within cultures is vast and significant
The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency cont.
• Each group has unique cultural needs
• The family, as defined by each culture, is the primary system of support
in the education of children
• Marginalized populations have to be at least bicultural, and this status
creates a distinct set of issues to which the system must be equipped to
• Inherent in the cross-cultural interactions are social and communication
dynamics that must be acknowledged, adjusted to, and accepted
• The school system must incorporate cultural knowledge into practice and
The Cultural Proficiency Continuum

Cultural Cultural Cultural Cultural Cultural Cultural
Destructiveness Incapacity Blindness Precompetence Competence Proficiency

Acknowledge Understand
Learn from and
Eliminate Demean Dismiss and start to the difference
grow because
differences differences differences respond to differences
of differences
differences make

The continuum portrays people and organizations who possess the
knowledge, skills, and moral bearing to distinguish among healthy and
unhealthy practices as represented by different worldviews
A Culturally Proficient Person
• Knows how to learn
about culture
• Strong sense of social
• Forward looking
• Take advantage of
teachable moments
• Create an environment
that is welcoming to
diversity and change
The Essential Elements of Cultural Competence
Assess Culture Naming the ● What are the unwritten rules in your school?
Differences ● How do you describe your own culture?
● How does your school provide for a variety of
learning styles?

Value Diversity Claiming the ● How would you describe the diversity in your
Differences current school setting?
● How do you react to the term valuing diversity?
● How do you and your colleagues frame
conversations about the learners?

Manage the Reframing the ● How do you handle conflict in the classroom?
Differences ● What skills do you possess to handle conflict?
Dynamics of ● Describe situations of cross-cultural conflict that
Difference may be based on historic distrust.
The Essential Elements of Cultural Competence cont.
Adapt to Changing for the ● How have you recently adapted to the needs of a
Differences new member?
Diversity ● How has your school recently adapted to the
needs of a new members?
● Describe examples of inclusive language and of
inclusive materials.
● How do you teach your students about the
school’s need to adapt to culture?

Institutionalize Training about ● What do you currently know about the cultural
Differences groups in your school and among your students?
Cultural ● What more would you like to know about those
Knowledge cultures?
● How do you and your colleagues learn about
theses cultural groups?
Inside-out Change
Commit through the processes of introspection, reflection, examination,
analysis, and planning to

• examining your own values, assumptions, and behaviors

• working with your colleagues to examine your school’s and district’s
policies and practices

• being an integral part of the community you serve by learning with and
from the community
Good luck on your journey
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