Tuesday / April 23

Dude, Where’s My Map? What a Cultural Proficiency Facilitator Must Know

CCSS map

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

Cultural ProficiencyCultural Proficiency has often been defined as an approach to addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. The approach uses a framework that consists of the Four Tools of Cultural Proficiency (originally developed by Terry Cross) that assist in analyzing individual values and behaviors, as well as organizational practices and policies. Cultural Proficiency has also been defined as a mindset or way of being. It is referred to as an inside-out process of change, a transformational journey on both the personal and the organizational levels.

If Cultural Proficiency is a journey, it’s a journey of inward exploration into uncharted terrain: the inner world of unconscious assumptions and cultural conditioning. Indeed, as with Star Trek, we are pushing the boundaries of our inner-space and voluntarily going where no one has (historically) gone before. To do this successfully, an experienced and skillful guide is needed. This guiding facilitator—or voyager, if you will—is someone who can lead people step-by-step through the transformation process into a new, better world where all educators effectively educate all children.

The question is: How can a facilitator accomplish this?

Paramount to a facilitator’s knowledge base is an in-depth and experiential grasp of the inside-out process. The process is one of awareness (inside) plus action (out). “Inside-out” is not simply presenting information to the audience; it is, in effect, guiding and leading the group through awareness into action, which is a transformative journey. You can’t “present” to a group its own journey. The group must make its own journey. The facilitator is someone with journey experience who can help make the transition easier for the group. He or she can assist individuals and groups to navigate their inner space, discover who they are and who they want to be, find their own direction, and take action based on that awareness.

Also, cursory knowledge of theory is not enough. A facilitator needs a detailed map that provides guidance through inner excavations and moral turnarounds and rocky climbs to higher grounds. In short, a map to support the pioneers who dare go beyond what’s always been thought and done and have courage to press on for the best, the prize of an often difficult but yet profound transformation. This “map” is a mental model that describes, among other things, the steps or stages through which the group will travel. It shows the landmarks of predictable dynamics on the journey, and it helps the facilitator assess the group’s current location and plan its next step.

The facilitator map that I use is based on Arthur Young’s Theory of Process (1976), later translated by David Sibbet for purposes of facilitation. Young’s model explains the evolution of consciousness or transformation in terms of seven stages. I’ve categorized half the stages as internal (the “inside” of “inside-out”), and half as external or actions (the “out”). Over the past ten years, I’ve further customized this process to meet the unique dynamics of facilitating Cultural Proficiency for groups. It’s the model I’ve found most helpful in mapping out the steps that lead to real transformation. It is also the first Cultural Proficiency facilitator process map that I’m aware of after more than a decade in the field. Although the intricacies of the map require description beyond the length of this post, I have outlined the stages below.

Awareness (“Inside”)

Journey  Stage Facilitator Intentions
1.                  Orientation
  • Lead from an emerging future.
  • Design the experience.
  • Turn attention inward.
2.                  Preparation
  • Nurture trust.
  • Process emotion.
  • Build capacity for dialogue and use of the Four Tools.
3.                  Exploration
  • Leverage dialogue.
  • Use the Four Tools to frame conversations.
  • Foster internal transformation.
4.                  (4a) Discovery
  • Recognize content as it emerges.
  • Assist articulation of new insights.
  • Help let go of unhealthy past.

Action (“Out”)

Journey  Stage Facilitator Intentions
4.                  (4b) Decision
  • Engage free will to choose.
  • Catalyze commitment.
  • Help embrace an unknown future.
5.                  Course Correction
  • Cultivate strategic planning.
  • Use the Four Tools to develop a roadmap.
  • Foster external transformation.
6.                  Intentional Moral Action
  • Foster implementation of culturally competent actions.
  • Process emotion.
  • Build capacity for leadership through change
7.                  Results, Ripples, and Renewal
  • Assist in harvesting, studying, and scaling, results that leverage diversity and eliminate educational gaps.
  • Celebrate accomplishments.
  • Turn attention to envisioning next area of action.


Written by

John Krownapple specializes in facilitating professional learning and organizational development focused on social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Since 2007 he has led the development and implementation of one of the first and most comprehensive Cultural Proficiency programs in the United States. John continues to administer this program for the Howard County Public School System (Maryland) in his role of coordinator for Cultural Proficiency, where he has guided movement toward inclusion and equity for a variety of teams and groups: organizational leaders, staff members, partners, government officials, students, and families. In his book Guiding Teams to Excellence with Equity: Culturally Proficient Facilitation, he offers professional development leaders knowledge, skills, and dispositions for facilitating Cultural Proficiency in their organizations. As an educator for two decades, John has served as a district office administrator, professional development facilitator, curriculum specialist, and elementary teacher. He is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and McDaniel College.

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