Dear Future Teachers,
In keeping with our Latinx Heritage Month theme, I wanted to dive into how we, as educators, can best support Latinxs in the classroom. While we can't have a Latinx teacher in every classroom, we can make conscious efforts to create space for the Latinx identities that may be in our classrooms. We should always strive to make schools more equitable for our students, so I wanted to provide some concrete ways that you can help make that a reality!
Incorporate Latinx Identities In Your Lesson Plans
Representation can appear in a variety of ways. Some examples are:
Hang pictures/posters of Latinx individuals around your classroom. Talk to your students about who they are and what they've done. Need ideas? Check out a list in my previous post 5 Latinxs to Talk About In Your Classroom.
Include books that feature and/or are written by Latinxs in your classroom library. Choose a book or passage to read with your students and make it part of your lesson plan! Suggestions for books you could use can be found in my post, Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month.
Include lesson plans specifically designed to teach about different aspects of the Latinx experience. Latinxs are diverse, so there are a lot of different ideas for lesson plans out there; get creative! One website that provides lesson plans in honor of Latinx Heritage month can be found here.
Provide Documents in English and Spanish
When sending documents home with students, make sure you create both an English and Spanish version for families whose dominant language is Spanish. If you're able to, try to do the same with homework assignments/classroom readings/assignment instructions so that parents have the option to be involved in the homework process. If parents are primarily Spanish-speaking, providing the homework in both English and Spanish would create an extra layer of support to help your students succeed! REMEMBER: Not all Latinx families are primarily Spanish-speaking. Please don't ever assume what language a students' family speaks. It is always best to ask families what their preferred language at home is in the beginning of the year.
Connect the Classroom to the Community
Depending on the area that you live in, there may be a lot of opportunities and events available that your students and families could benefit from. This could include cultural events in the community, informationals regarding college access, or other events to connect your classroom to the greater community. You could also invite community members into your classroom as guest speakers, making sure to find a variety of occupations and identities within those occupations.
It is super important to not only begin shifting your classroom to become a more inclusive space, but also dedicating yourself to learning more about the different identities in your classroom and how you can support them.
Stay updated on laws and policies passed that may impact your Latinx families
Understand the barriers Latinxs face in the institution of education
Learn about harmful stereotypes that exist and that should be avoided
Avoid using a deficit approach when teaching Latinx students (Different cultural perspectives and/or being bilingual are ASSETS!)
Look for college access programs, job fairs, and other opportunities geared towards Latinx families
As you research and adjust your pedagogies to become more equitable, I encourage you to advocate for the rights of your students! Your love for your students doesn't have to stay confined to the classroom. Some ways to use your voice as an advocate:
Encourage your colleagues to implement some of the changes you've taken on in their own classrooms (you can even brainstorm new ideas together!)
Talk to your school administration about policies impacting Latinx families, specifically Spanish-speaking families or first-generation students (you can promote the idea of homework being provided in English with a Spanish translation, push for Spanish translators/interpreters to be added to the school staff, encourage Latinx Heritage Month to become a school-wide celebration, etc.)
Push for curriculum change to be more inclusive of various identities
Contact your local and state representatives to ask for inclusive policies or push back against discriminatory practices
Organize in your community to create more opportunities in support of your Latinx students and families
Of course these ideas don't have to be limited to your Latinx students. I think these are awesome steps that you can implement for all identities that you have in your classroom space! These suggestions also should not be limited to Latinx Heritage Month alone; you should celebrate and uplift your Latinx students year-round. Talk to your colleagues and community members, share your ideas and listen to the ideas of your peers, get creative! If you have more suggestions in supporting your Latinx students, or you want to share how you're transforming your classroom, please send them in through the Contact Form on my Home page or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.