What do you teach about the Latinx diaspora? How much do you know about their histories or present realities? What do your students know about Puerto Rico? What about your Puerto Rican students? When we say ‘culturally responsive‘ teaching is about making instruction ‘relevant‘, it is implied that educators must reach beyond and outside of the traditional focus on middle class white populations. Relevance refers to students of color, an incredible amount of diversity to teach to and about! Not an impossible task, it is but a necessary one!
Since schools minimally strive for student integration to enrich the lives of all children, our public schools have been heavily re-segregated across the nation. With this new trend, a reminder and reflection of an inequitable past, many progressive forward-thinkers see no solution in sight. Yet, there are solutions! We have to find them in relatively ‘hidden’ places. In the meantime, students are separated from one another, physically and culturally. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn from and about one another and themselves.
It is urgently required that classroom teachers work outside of the texts, the curriculum, and the readily available resources. Be determined to teach to children their as well as everyone else’s ‘truth’, history and life experiences. Teaching the truth, the full unabridged truth, cultural truths, is to teach respect and tolerance. Confound biases and immaculate perceptions!
Just as is the manner, frequency and depth by which we must teach African-American history, embedded into the curriculum, so should instruction specific to Latinx experiences. One month during an academic school year is an implied message to students that they don’t matter. Thus, students feel as though they don’t belong in school settings. Demonstrate to them that they do matter. Open the door to maximum active engagement and optimal academic acheivement. Teach about Puerto Rico!
Help develop trust between yourselves and your students by offering them the information and knowledge that they receive no where else and never before. Enlighten them, engage them, and inspire them with self-knowledge. Create space in your instructional repertoire for introducing new knowledge about Puerto Rico through poetry, prose and fiction. Your students will thank you for caring by sharing!
Download a free book, Caribbean Connections: Puerto Rico, by following the link below. Begin exploring and celebrating Puerto Rico and inspire authentic respect for the diversely represented students in your classrooms!