To help educators like you build inclusive classroom communities where Latinx culture is taught and celebrated, we asked Latinx, Hispanic, and Latino-identifying Teacher-Authors to share their experiences and advice. Read on for ideas that you can use to support community-building efforts with your students this Latinx Heritage Month and all year round.
First Generation Dreams
On my identity and heritage: It is one of my most important identities, and I absolutely love that. It means my precious childhood, in which I grew up with just the necessary, where family and life itself are the most valuable things there could be. It means who I am; it shows everywhere (in the music I listen to and dance to, in the food that I eat every day, in the beautiful traditions I celebrate, in all my family reunions, in my job, in how I raise my children, and more) and I am proud to be a Latina.
On building inclusive classroom communities: As a Latina and first-generation student myself, I identify with many challenges that are presented to us when pursuing our educational goals. Seeing things through the lens of underrepresented communities has helped me keep a focus on the need for our students to find representation in my classroom and in those classrooms of the wonderful teachers who have been supporting me by trusting the work I do and share here on TpT. I have also been fortunate to have worked with students of all backgrounds, and my experience with diversity has increased my passion for education.
Some of the things I do include the following:
- I host a Mexican Mothers’ Day Festival, where Spanish-speaking moms can be fully present and enjoy being celebrated completely in Spanish.
- I share poems with them for inspiration that are not part of an assignment.
- I have an agenda that supports the LGBTQ+ community that is displayed for everyone to see that everybody is welcome.
- I sponsor the LULAC club at my school to help my underrepresented students see themselves in leadership roles.
- I have posters that celebrate diversity, including LGBTQ+ & the Black Lives Matter Movement.
- I try to teach a Latinx dance lesson each year as a way to incorporate even this aspect of our cultural traditions.
- I try to lower their anxiety by playing Spanish music while they wait for our meetings to start.
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: Since I teach Spanish at a high school level, I have many opportunities to mix culture and diversity every day. I begin my classes with a short warm-up that includes an interesting fact from Hispanic culture, as an example, but I intentionally include many cultural lessons into my teaching. I have a couple of movies I love showing to the kids each year: Coco (to shine a bright spot on the Day of the Dead traditions, which is one of my favorite ones to teach), and La Misma Luna (to bring awareness of immigration myths, issues and challenges).
Sra Davila Madwid
On my identity and heritage: It means everything to me. As an immigrant myself — I moved to the U.S when I was 13 from Perú — I never realized how much I love and appreciate my heritage. I’m proud to share my culture with my students, and at the same time, I learn more about myself by studying our rich culture because there is always something to learn.
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: I love to include important Latinx figures throughout the year through film, through decor, and projects. I even dress as Frida [Kahlo] during our Character Day and share a short clip of her life. You would be surprised how many students have never heard of her.
On building inclusive classroom communities: My number one strategy is creating meaningful relationships with my students. Everything in my classroom is inviting and has a deep message for ALL my students.
Ideas for helping students feel included remotely:
- Have all students on Zoom from the classroom and at home so they all get to know each other.
- Plan a Bitmoji classroom with all the decor from the classroom so they feel like they are there.
- Reach out individually to those students struggling to connect.
The Little Ladybug Shop
Reading and Writing Consultant
On my identity and heritage: My heritage is very important to me. I’m proud of being a Latin/ Hispanic woman. I love seeing my family, friends, and others celebrate my culture in meaningful ways. I love growing and learning more about my culture as an adult and teaching it to my kids. My grandparents were immigrants and I truly believe they came here for the dream and knowing we are part of this great diverse country that celebrates all cultures is very beautiful!
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by reading about influential leaders all month long. Students conduct research projects of these influential leaders and present to the class. It is a month-long project but students enjoy learning and studying all cultures in our classroom. These are some wonderful books for the classroom:
- Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia
- Abuelita Full of Life
- Chocolate Milk Por Favor
- Too Many Tamales
- A Pinata and a Pine Tree
On building inclusive classroom communities: Celebrating and welcoming all, being inclusive and making sure all students and families know this. You can spotlight different cultures, make sure your classroom library is inclusive of all cultures and celebrate authors.
Mata Math and Science
Middle School Math & Science Teacher
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: I assign a “mathematician of the quarter” project, where I provide students with the option to choose between a list of not-so-popular trailblazers in history who have impacted the mathematics and STEM disciplines. This list highlights minorities and females to bring more attention to these individuals and their culture.
On building inclusive classrooms: I want to ensure I’m being equitable by considering my students’ culture and perspectives when designing my classroom and course activities. One strategy I rely on often is offering students voice and choice within assignments. This provides students with options that cater to not only various learning preferences, but also to their individual strengths, passions, and unique viewpoints. It is super important now, more than ever, that educators recognize and address their personal biases.
I [also] track each attempt I make to personally connect with each student using a roster. This allows me to strategically build relationships in a non-biased, quantitative way. This idea was originally shared by Dave Stuart Jr. on Jennifer Gonzalez’ podcast and blog, Cult of Pedagogy.
On my identity and heritage: Latinx heritage means respecting one’s traditions and culture. It means respecting other’s traditions and culture, not just Latinx’s. Latinx heritage means to respect all who are different. We are all the same. We are no better than anyone else.
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: I use my own traditions and Latin culture. For example, my Day of the Dead resource is all about what I’ve learned from my mother and grandma. Those [pictures included in the resource] are actual pictures of my family’s altars and traditions. I also encourage all of my students to share out their home traditions and I include them in my classroom lessons. We have multicultural days in our school to promote diversity and culture. I’ll also be teaching about Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo, Dolores Huerta, along with other popular Latin-American heroes and famous people.
On building inclusive classroom communities: I’m doing a daily social-emotional lesson, and in it, it is my hope to include a lesson of love, respect, trust, and admiration among all the friends in our class. I want everyone to know that our differences are beautiful.
Sailing into Second
3rd Grade Teacher
On my identity and heritage: My Mexican-American heritage is something I’m most proud of. I come from a family full of love, language, rich traditions, and seriously the best food! All of these play such an important role in who I grew up to be and why I love being Latino. From my Abuelita’s special mole recipe, to my dual language upbringing — it’s all part of my identity. And I can’t wait to continue teaching it to my kids as well!
On highlighting Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and experiences in lessons: Our Latinx history and culture is everywhere! It’s important to remember to bring articles, books, guest speakers, anything relating to our culture into as many lessons as you can throughout the year. It’s not just a one-month thing — make it count by celebrating and uplifting POC all year long!
On building inclusive classroom communities: Social-emotional learning is one of the most important aspects of any grade level, but it’s especially important in primary grades. One strategy is to give your students a simple Google Form where they explain or show how they feel each morning. Your students can visually mark how they are feeling. Then you can have a place where students can share any other information (positive or negative) about their day. Knowing you are asking about how they feel and making that effort to check in with them is key!
La Misi en Espanol
Spanish Teacher (in Puerto Rico)
On my identity and heritage: Being Puerto Rican, my heritage means being proud of my language and culture and not letting it die in a world that is mostly anglocentric. We have so much talent to give: scientists, athletes, artists, scholars, and more are all making a great impact in the world. Being Latina, I cherish the warmth of our people. We are empathetic, happy people that enjoy simple things. To me, my heritage means family, love, and resilience.
Ideas for helping students feel included remotely:
- Smile a lot more, because students need warmth.
- Ask them questions so they can take part in the discussion.
- Ask them to clarify how their name is pronounced.
- Get to know them and what they like first. After that sense of community is established, then they’ll be ready to learn.
Bring the history and cultures of Latinx, Hispanic, and Latino-identifying communities into your lessons this Latinx Heritage Month — and beyond — with this curated selection of resources.