5 Ways to Make the Most of School for Latina/o/x Students
by Dr. Louie F. Rodriguez
Many students struggle to engage, find relevance, and get inspired by the process of schooling in the U.S. It is our collective duty to remind you that you play a crucial role in reimaging what schooling can look like, especially for Latina/o/x students. The 5 daily reminders below are informed by 15 years of research and by a legacy of Indigenous knowledge across the Americas, particularly the Aztec philosophy on education. You should remain attentive to the importance of attending school daily, owning the schooling process, and thriving for the purposes of serving your communities and building your collective legacies. Hopefully you can engage your peers and teachers in conversations about the following 5 reminders and use them as inspiration to make each day purposeful.
Mirror Mondays: When you look into the mirror, you should see more than a reflection of your own face. You should see a reflection of your family, your culture, your language, your/their struggles, your ganas, your/their fight, and your/their dreams. People have fought for you to attend school. When you look in the mirror you should know that you are never alone; you should see generations who are pushing and supporting you. Embrace the responsibility by going to school and building your legacy. If you take a full look into the mirror, future generations will see you when they look in the mirror.
Transformation Tuesdays: Go to school with a purpose. Your classes should be providing you with opportunities to discuss, debate, and build new knowledge. This knowledge should have direct relevance to your community. Work with your peers and teachers to identify problems and challenges in your communities and create a plan to address these challenges. Transformation starts in the classroom. Be there to make learning a transformative experience.
Wise-Heart Wednesdays: Our ancestors across the hemisphere believed that one of the roles of the teacher was to develop people with wise hearts. A wise heart is full of wisdom, knowledge, and consciousness. A wise heart also consists of a relentless commitment to our communities. A commitment to education is more than a commitment to ourselves but a commitment to improving the lives of others. Go to school to develop a wise heart and surround yourself with peers and teachers who are equally committed to the community.
Teach on Thursdays: Schools should be spaces that develop students into thoughtful, reflective, and kind people. Students, you have a story to tell. Imagine ways you can bridge your life experiences and long-term dreams with the topics you are exploring in the classroom. Challenge yourself to teach what you know. Tell your teachers that you are interested in co-teaching a lesson. After all, the strongest evidence of student learning is a public demonstration of student learning. Be there to be courageous, be prepared, and deliver.
Forward-Looking Fridays: Students should constantly challenge themselves to answer the following question, Education for what? Society, schools, and teachers are driven by a purpose of education. You should challenge yourselves in determining whether you will embrace the system as is or work with people in the school system to ensure it makes sense for you and your communities. Education is not a rigid endeavor; rather it is an organic process that needs your voices and experiences to inform the content. Dare to imagine new possibilities in education and dream big.
Your legacy should drive your intentionality; your dreams will help you find your purpose!
Dr. Louie F. Rodríguez is the Bank of America Chair in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Practice and an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California Riverside. His work focuses on issues of equity and excellence in our nation’s public schools and communities, Latina/o/x student success, understanding student voice and school culture. Learn more at: www.drlouiefrodriguez.com