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Dedicated to Teachers

Podcast: Linguistic Borders, Translanguaging, and Honoring Bilingual Literacies

on the podcast Linguistic Borders

Today on the podcast we’re joined by three Heinemann authors, Lorena Germán, Carla España, and Luz Yadira Herrera.

Lorena is the author of Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices, where she explores strategies that build traditional literacy skills while also supporting students in developing their social justice skills.

Carla and Luz are co-authors of En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students. Their book reveals the power of educators to create liberating spaces and experiences for bilingual students.

Lorena, Carla, and Luz join us today to talk about the many ways in which their work overlaps, and uncover new ways of honoring students’ rich linguistic lives. 


Below is a transcript of this conversation.

Lorena: Hey, everyone. I'm so happy that we were able to find the time to chat and get into conversation, and I'm excited for folks to listen to our conversation. Let me just say why it came to me to have this conversation. So I was reading your book, En Comunidad, and as I said earlier, I mean, I got to the forward, I got through the forward, and I was like, "Okay, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait." I really did. And I read it all over again. And I said, "Wow, this is so powerful." Just the overview. And then I was so hyped to get through the lessons.
So I'm getting through the books. There are so many parallels with Textured Teaching. And I'll explain what Textured Teaching is a little bit, for those of you that don't know that are listening. But I was like, "Okay, I can't wait to get into conversation with Carla and Luz, and just make some connections," for a number of reasons. One, I'm a nerd, and I like to do that. And then two, there's not enough conversation, at least I don't think, about how to teach Latinx emerging bilinguals, and folks that are learning English and becoming bilingual. And I said, I want to have that conversation. I touch upon it on my book here and there, but obviously, it's not dedicated to that, whereas yours is. And so I was like, I feel like this fills in a lot of the gaps that I left, the whole sections that I didn't address, which was fine, because that wasn't what I set out to do.

But I just felt like this was a really good pairing for someone who is working in a community that is predominantly Latinx kids, or even not. Not the whole school, right, but it's enough that you really need to spend time thinking about this. And so that's why I was like, "Let's make this happen." So I'm excited. And so very quickly, about Textured Teaching, it is a book where I talk about what it is to teach for and about social justice. I try to make an argument about what social justice is and then the importance of doing that, and how teaching for and about skills is not mutually exclusive. Well, certainly, already a parallel with your book, right?

And so I introduce a framework. Basically, I think about culturally sustaining pedagogy and what that looks like in the classroom in action. And so I developed this framework after all my years in teaching and talking with other educators who also do that work, and thinking about how do I distill all of our practices into something that is really replicable so that it's not magic. There's also pedagogy there. There's a strategy. You have intentional steps that you take…

I feel like we don't do enough of trying to replicate that, what the strategies are, and then you add your own sauce to it, if you will. And that makes you special. So anyway, that's a little bit about textured teaching. And can I just jump in with a question? I want to just get in. In the forward, the one and only Ofelia Garcia talks about linguistic borders. And I've heard that phrase before, but I'm going to admit, I never really stopped to flesh that out, and to just think through it and meditate and study, and look up what's out there on it. And that's why I said when I read this forward, I had to go back and read it again, because I was like, "I got to let this sit inside of me."

And so she talked about linguistic borders and then I thought about how, in one way, Textured Teaching also aims to deconstruct a lot of these borders, linguistic, and all these other borders that exist in our classrooms, and how even just saying, "I'm going to teach in a way that inspires young people to aim for and work towards social justice," is a border in and of itself, right? We have these borders in our curriculum where it's like, well, we're learning about this, we're learning math and that's it. That's the border. Everything else falls outside of that. It's over there. We don't touch that. That's not objective. That's not neutral. Can y'all just flesh out for us a little bit, what do you mean when you say linguistic borders? How do you think it shows up? And then tell us about En Comunidad.

Luz: Yeah. And I can get us started. Thank you, Lorena, for thinking of this, bringing us together here to today. So linguistic borders and when Ofelia talks about linguistic borders, right, we want to remember translanguaging, and it's a foundational pedagogy in our work. And in your book, you talk a lot about, or you ground your teaching, your approach, in culturally sustaining pedagogies, right? And in En Comunidad, we talk about culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogies, because of the target population, right, of emergent bilingual learners that we wrote this book for, emergent bilinguals, Latinx bilingual students, children.

So linguistic borders is really a way that in schooling, children have been denied the opportunity to bring in their entire linguistic repertoire to make meaning, to make connections, right, to make sense of what they're learning of the world around them. And so translanguaging is about transcending, right, these imposed borders on children's language practices. And we talk about how do we create intentional spaces, right? Translanguaging pedagogy allows for those intentional spaces for us to think about ways to welcome students' entire linguistic repertoire, and celebrate our children's dynamic language practices. And so that's what linguistic borders is really all about.

Carla: Thanks, Luz. I was thinking about the images. I had all these images that popped in my mind, Lorena, when you ask that question, and so appreciate always your criticality with teaching, but always connecting it to what students are experiencing, and the historical trajectory of those in power that have eliminated or done away with the opportunities for language-minoritized students to communicate and excel and thrive. And so bringing us together is just beautiful. I love it. And I was thinking when you asked that question, I have this picture of, I don't know if you've seen these signs, they're really popular, but those signs that sometimes schools will have in their classroom doors when they have dual language bilingual programs, and the sign will say, "Today, we speak in English," or, "Today is Spanish day. Today is an English day."

So I have one saved on my phone from my own old school where I had began my teaching. And it was a Uncle Sam clip art thing, picture. And then it said, "Today is a English day."

Lorena: This is just getting worse by the second.

Carla: So, yeah. When you asked that question about, and then Ofelia was writing about language borders, and then Luz's talking about translanguaging as going beyond that, and it's such a beautiful method of teaching, that's what I thought of. So you can have, on paper, on what is called the language allocation policy documents that are public for schools that you can see what are they doing where they say they're supporting students who are learning English, and they say we have a bilingual program. And maybe it's transitional, and they have English as a new language, or maybe it's dual language bilingual, or maybe it's not a truly bilingual program in terms of, we want them to be bilingual, bicultural, but it's like, we will have an ENL teacher and it's assimilationist and we got to get to English real quick, right?

But even within those that will say we are bilingual program, you might find signs like that, that are for strict language separation, because the philosophy of teaching in those districts or schools start from the premise that languages are separate. You believe that, and then you think that students are processing that way, then you are going to have your charts in one color for English and one color for Spanish. They are separated in different parts of the classroom. That's the way I was taught when I started in my own teacher journey, and it caused me to have a lot of questions, because that's not the way I saw students processing information and it wasn't the way that I, as a bilingual being, processed them either. So when I was doing research and reading more on the history of bilingual education and the struggles for getting access, there was that tension for me.

So for me, it's always going under those layers. It's what do I see in schools? What do I hear? And even if you do have a program that's bilingual and you say we have support for children who are learning English, what does that look like and sound like?

Lorena: Something that I'm thinking of now as I'm listening to you, because our country is so segregated, right, you can be an educator who's never really had to deal with this. Unless you're in urban areas, right, urban or close to urban areas that are in the places where you have a lot of Latinos, so whether you're in Florida or maybe in New England, right, including New York, or maybe on the Southwest, if you're in the Midwest outside of Chicago, then you might not, right? You might not be running into this stuff. And so can you all help us understand what is so problematic, what's so harmful about demanding that students segregate their thinking and learning in that way?

Luz: Well, I can get us started with that. And I'm going to go back to what Ofelia Garcia always says, especially when it comes to the context of bilingual, dual language education. It is important to create those spaces for languages too, so that students have a chance to practice, right, to develop and work on their language development, but we can't isolate the languages, right? Because, languages are interconnected, right, interdependent. And like Carla mentioned, that's not how we do language. Bilingual people don't have an on and off switch. That's a problem with the word code switching as well, because that's an external perspective of what bilinguals do.

What we do is we read the world and we kind of try to negotiate, depending on where we are, who we're with, we do suppress certain features, but they're always there. They're never off, right? And so we just kind of choose which features to use for that moment in time. But it's impossible to isolate our languages. And that's the issue with this approach. And so again, it is important to create those spaces, but we can't isolate, because language is interdependent.

Carla: Yeah. And I was thinking Luz and I, we do a lot of work in teacher education programs. So we're constantly in grad school classes and workshops with teachers. And when we think harm, like what's the harm in separating or not including or not considering translanguaging pedagogy, I think harm not only to children, when we're talking about children, like our young K-12 kind of children, but we're seeing this harm go for decades into the adults that we teach in grad programs, right?

So we start the book... En Comunidad starts page one, chapter one with anecdotes from our own interactions with teachers who will say, "I have been placed in a student teaching situation where my mentor teacher doesn't think my Spanish is valuable or valid be because they learned they as a white monolingual woman became bilingual by going study abroad in Spain. They come back and they teach kids in a New York city school. And then I have my Black Honduran student who grew up raised in a household and country speaking Spanish, and then comes to this place to grow and their educational practice is placed at this school.

And then the teacher tells them that their Spanish is not correct but their Spanish from Spain is, and not my student’s. That's harmful. We're talking about decades of a lot of trauma that adults are unlearning and have to process and deal with a lot of shame around, well, there are these assumptions that I should speak Spanish a certain way. And so we talk about that language hierarchy a lot in En Comunidad. And that's where I found so many connections with textured teaching. That in En Comunidad we were talking about, it's not just to grab a book, "Oh, look how cute. There's a character that has a word or two in Spanish in a book that's in English. Yes, representation."

We're saying we're going beyond that. We want to do a study of how language is used in book and we want to create room for students to also try that out in their own writing. That's chapter two and three where we talk about using the text for your own writing and for your own reading analysis. But then we go into issues of power and issues around history of what's been celebrated, what's not. And that's what I felt textured teaching does so well. I'm going to read you a line on page 133. I'm ready to teach this book Lorena. You say, "Being Latinx in the United States means understanding historic oppression and problematic governmental policies."

And then you talk about the context, that that part wasn't easy for them to relate to and then the conversation with students when they started to get engaged when you started bringing that in, and then you talk about, again, "This isn't magic," you say, "It's an intentional strategy." So for me, that was the most beautiful part of writing this book, of En Comunidad with Luz, was what's our intentional strategy, what is it that we have in common when we design lessons so that students feel bilingual, multilingual like the next students feel affirmed? But also your white monolingual teacher who is the most represented in our teaching force in the US, that they feel that, or they feel and that they see this is an urgent matter whether I have five Latinx students in my class or zero. So no matter what context, this is important to talk about.

Lorena: I think some of the ways that I would answer that same question too, about how this is harmful, is building on everything that you have said. We also have to think about what messages do our teaching approaches send. And I'm hearing all of you aim at and you flesh out of the book too, is the ways that this type of segregation and style of thinking or separating, isolating the language, communicates that right now, this one language, well, this is the goal, this is the one that we really should prioritize. And we know which one that always is.

The one supposedly that you need to learn for all the things. To improve your life, to be better, to make it, to succeed, to have the job. And where the other one is like, well no se para a que where you just, in your home, you can practice it. And so we start to have this hierarchy as you've talked about. And so that sends a message in all kinds of ways and it actually hinders cognitive development in my... I mean, right? Because if I'm not able to really use my full repertoire, then I might actually miss some stuff…

Carla: And that connects to your thing on assessment.

Lorena: Exactly.

Carla: You have a beautiful section on what does assessment look like. And I kept thinking about who's doing this really beautifully, Professor Laura Ascenzi Moreno, who's at Brooklyn College City University of New York. And she does a lot of work around translanguaging and adaptations to assessments that are so monolingual, designed with a monolingual lens and then applied to bilingual and multilingual children, without giving them access to use their full language repertoire. For example, and I think we give an example in chapter one, with this student I went to support when I was a bilingual supervisor for a teacher in a grad program, a pre-service teacher. And she was in a bilingual dual language classroom.

She asked the question in a math class, the student couldn't answer in the language that she was teaching that day and then she asked the student, "Ask your language buddy." The language buddy next to the student didn't know how to say it. And then the teacher went ahead and responded, and then answered it all flustered and frustrated. And the two kids, you saw their face, this was first grade, they felt like their faces were down. They were just look down, they looked sad. It's like, they couldn't please their teacher. And I had a conversation with her to debrief about the lesson. I said, "Talk me through your decisions. I just want to know why you decided to have them just ask their buddy and then why couldn't they use the other language?"

And we talked about what we were learning in our class in our grad program. We talked about what she, as a bilingual Dominican immigrant, lived in Queens. I was like, "Listen, you tell me about your life. What do you experience and feel in your body? And then what happened in your class today?" And there was a big gap between what she was experiencing and what the principal had told her, that you could not allow students to use their full language repertoire. And so we had to have this conversation as to what then happened. What did you notice? They couldn't communicate. Lorena, like you were saying. Maybe they understood, but you as a teacher, didn't even get to see that they understood the concept because you weren't allowing them to use the other language. We have a lot of work to do.

Lorena: Yeah. But I feel like there's so much more... Because so many of us, people like us, are in this field and are spending time thinking through and being critical of what teaching and learning has been, is now and can be, I feel like there's also simultaneously, with all this struggle and with all of these problems that there's also this hope. Because my book alone is not the only one talking about these things and your book alone isn't the only one talking about these things.

And so that is great that someone could say, "I have five books that can be the cornerstone for how I changed my practice for the better." I did not have that when I started teaching. And I just started teaching, what was that? 12 years ago? Just 12 years ago I did not have the books that I have now. They literally just didn't exist. And so in this short period of time there has been a little bit of a revolution if you will, I think.

Carla: Adding to that... One of your characteristics of textured teaching is it being interdisciplinary. And I kept thinking about the power in teachers from different content areas having those conversations. So it's not just, "Oh, we have that one person hired in our school who's in charge of those kids or helping those kids." No, we got to change that narrative. And it starts with what you talk about in the beginning on positionality. Right Lorena? So Lorena has this beautiful section in the beginning about we have to unpack where we're coming from and our lived experiences. And if you do that in isolation, you're going to miss things.

I can't think like, "I'm going to leave it to that one teacher, the ENL teacher, or it's going to be that one language support teacher." We're all teaching content that has to do with literacy. We're engaging in reading the word and the world like Paulo Freire left us with all of like social studies, science, math, everything. So why can't we have that collaboration and think, what is it that we have to do better as a team and to grow together? So that's exciting for me. When I hear about teams working on this, as opposed to thinking, I got to do this on my own.

Luz: Lorena, in your book, you talk about doing the work. And I love that you included a picture of a tweet that you tweeted out a while ago. Providing a definition of what it means, what does it look like to do the work? And so I thought about more parallels that I saw between your book and En Comunidad. And in En Comunidad we talk about critical bilingual literacies or growing our critical bilingual literacies, which are these four guiding principles that are the framework of our entire approach.

And so doing the work really aligns well with one of them, which is unpacking language ideologies. How do those ideas get there about our languages, our language practices, our students' language practices, and how does that, those ideas impact the way that we approach our pedagogy? And so, can you talk a little bit about what it means to do the work for those of you who have, for people that have not read your book and maybe some of the connections you have also seen between CBL, Critical Bilingual Literacies, and your approach?

Lorena: Yeah. So I really appreciated that phrasing that you all used as well, because I've heard a lot about bilingual literacies. And I feel like adding that piece of the criticality to it immediately shifts it to like, okay, wait, we're about to go a little bit deeper than simply literacy practices. Immediately, for me, when I see that I'm like, "Okay, we're about to contextualize it." We're going to know who's talking, where they're talking, why they're talking and why I, as a teacher here, or an educator or a facilitator of the learning, whatever kind of space this is, I need to take that into consideration.

So it always interests me because for too long, I sat in classrooms as a student where my education was very decontextualized. It was, "We're going to learn about this thing here. I don't care who you are. I don't care who I am. I don't care where we are or what's happening in the world. This is a thing that I think, or that someone said you need to learn." And so that type of request is... It's going to sound dramatic, but it's inhumane in the sense that as a human, we don't work that way. So I don't that it's mean-spirited. I don't want to say that, but it is inhumane in that you're asking me to do something that actually is contrary to regular shmegular human ways.

So when I think about that framework and when I think about Textured Teaching and the demand that we're both asking, or yeah, the demand that all of us are making with our books, is that we're asking educators and folks that are designing education, whether you're... Whatever that means. We are demanding that people come up with an integrated approach. Garcia broke it down on the foreword. Okay, she talked about these integrated lessons. She summarized them that way and I said, "That is interdisciplinary teaching and learning, that's the same thing." We're using the same language but it's the same goal. Okay, we're taking different streets to get to the same building, because that is truer to humanity, to learning and into processing.

And I think too, which I'm sure, I can't remember if y'all touched upon it or maybe that's why I'm remembering, but I know that coming from the countries that we come from, culturally speaking, it's a very collective approach to life. We're very much a communal people and we think that way too.

So I'm saying that because to honor who we are is to honor also how we think, and how we process and how we translanguage. And so our lessons and the ways that we design learning experiences for students have to be integrated, be interdisciplinary and build that kind of background knowledge, which is one of the terms that I use intentionally, because that's so familiar to teachers.

So I was like, all right, let's call it background knowledge so that we can have that conversation about how to go deeper. When a teacher is going to teach a new book, they're like, "Okay, let's learn about the author. Who's the author? When were they born?"
I don't remember when Nathaniel Hawthorne was born. I don't remember, but I can tell you, if you would've learned about maybe the whiteness that shaped him. I would've been like, "Oh, okay. That's an interesting take.” Let's really go deeper and understand the ways that these external forces have shaped these books and or the way that we learn stuff.
And I know that that will hit different when you've got all these kids in front of you who are actually living in that critical life. This is a little bit of family secret, so I have to be careful when I talk about this, but let me put it this way, when national events occur, there was always a narrative in the news, and there was always what I heard outside, and then there was a different story that I heard at home.

I won't name them, but people would say things like aye, que lo americano no comprende. So for me, I always had that counter-narrative. So if a teacher would've included some of that, I know that I would've been like, "Okay, I could really have a legit conversation in here," I can really process this and all the possible angles to why this happened or how it happened, instead of remembering facts, or dates, and timelines, and this is what happened. It's like, well, but there's also another point of view.

Luz: Thank you so much Lorena for bringing that up, that really connects well too. We have a whole chapter dedicated to centering counter-narratives because we know that so much of what we learn in schools is about sustaining that dominant narrative. And so we talk about, well, how can we create those spaces in the classroom for students themselves to do the research? To do the research to find those counter-narratives that are going to be able to counter, obviously, these harmful messages that they're getting about, perhaps themselves, their communities, their home countries?

And it's just such an important part of what we're missing, I think, in education. And I think right now we're seeing so much happening across the country. For example, we've seen over the course of several months, this attack on critical race theory. And that alone has been just... Oh, man, it's taken up so much of our time, so much of our resources, so much of our... We could be doing something else. We could be doing the work instead of arguing against what, I'm not even sure.

Carla: I was thinking about that teaching of counter-narratives and how, for me, reading texture teaching and looking at the... You have these interdisciplinary units, and then you gave an example of what it looked like in your own teaching. It really aligned well with, in our approach, we started the book... Before we went into lessons we said that every lesson that we were going to develop was going to have culturally linguistically sustaining texts, that it would also be around a topic that would be culturally linguistically sustaining, and that we were going to center translanguaging pedagogy.

And so that in our own even method of teaching, so not just the text that I'm picking, but the method that I'm going to use to relay information from that text will be one that sees no borders around languages. And then when we go in that chapter on counter-narratives, and then we have also a chapter that also goes into thinking about the text that students are using to craft their own stories or craft their own counter-narratives, because it could be around interviews that they're doing with families to get to know a topic better or maybe it's through a book that they're getting to know an author's experience better.

For us, it wasn't anything that was in isolation, but it was always in conversation with what are the dominant narratives that we also have heard of in our own learning? Because we have to go back to that first point that, Lorena, you made on positionality and that we make in the beginning, where we talk about principle number one and critical bilingual literacies is that constant self-reflection.

So as a teacher, as I'm lesson planning and I'm identifying those topics, I'm identifying those texts, and I'm identifying the translanguaging method that I'm using, I'm also going back to identifying what do I need to do better in my own understanding of kids, identities and experiences?

So what am I missing in this picture? What am assumption that we're making? And we do this in every workshop with teachers that we... Every partnership we have in the district, that's super important, because it's not about the book list. And I think, Lorena, you do such a beautiful job with Disrupt Texts on this. And it's not about, here's a list of books and now we made it, we got it, or here are the book clubs we've engaged in, because how many book clubs were schools doing in the summer of 2020?

Here's our anti-racist book club, we've made it, or we're starting this journey and this is the book club we've got, but the methods are still the same. If your method of teaching doesn't align with what you're learning in a book then we need to do better. So I like this thinking interdisciplinary approach in Textured Teaching, you talk about being flexible and centering students. And in CBL we talk about, and the fourth principle for us is that celebration of Latinx students and centering their own ways of being, their own ways of knowing, and ways of communication.

And for most teachers that might be something they're not comfortable with because that's not their own experience. And then that's why we have to make space to get to know those experiences.

And so in En Comunidad we give a bunch of book lists. So here are some authors who are from these communities... Again, this is important, authors from these communities that will help you understand what this sounds like and looks like. And not that one book can do that, but it's a place that as a teacher, I can start there.

Lorena: I'm thinking about this doing the work piece some more. Because something that you just said reminded me of this idea that as educators we tend to be very practical minded. We want to be, it's a good thing. But that can't be absent of that inner work first.

Luz: Exactly.

Carla: What's grounding you? What's grounding you? And you want create a worksheet. You want to create a graphic organizer. You want to create a cute activity. What grounds you in that cute end product?

I loved having this conversation with my colleagues about our end unit. You always have those, "What are we doing at the end of the unit?" Ideally, you want to do that before you teach the unit. You want to be like, "Backwards planning." What's the... the ideal…

Lorena: And not everybody there.

Carla: Not everybody there. We were almost getting there. So I was in this conversation and then there were all these ideas, oh, they could do these cute projects, they could build this, they can write this essay, there's a test on the book. All right, it tells me a lot for a teacher who says, "We're going to read a book and then I'm going to give a test on it." And then the questions are this recall, do you know where the setting was? Do you know the name of this character?

That's a very different type of information or type of learning that you're asking from the student versus like my current project, my eighth graders going to pick a topic from a book we're reading. There are like six options, they're going to pick one. If they don't like my options, they can tell me of other one, great.

One student came up to me. I was like, I actually don't want to do the representation of children with autism and children's literature, I want to talk about children with autism and what that looks like. Great, thank you. That's your topic, go. They're going to create documentaries. They're doing research. They're going to create a little video clip for documentaries and they're going to teach us about this topic.

That's very different than the, here's a test on the book. I love that in Textured Teaching you talk about that. It's like, how do we consider our assessments and also consider student voice? What is it about students communities that is informing my teaching and informing my own approach to teaching?

Lorena: What is the skill? Why do they need to do that? For what? What purpose? And how is that useful to them outside of this classroom? So in thinking about this, doing the work piece, when I talk to teachers, when I'm working with teachers and whatever capacity, there's always the desire of, "Let's take these ideas. What does it look like?"

And I love that conversation. And I like having that conversation because I've done a lot of that pre-work, I've done a lot of that self-work. So when I'm noticing someone who has not, and they want to jump to that, I have to go “you can't get over there until you do this”.
Know where you're headed and what you're grounded in. So that the worksheet, the project, the book, all of that has a why behind it, a very clear, purposeful why. So Luz that question about doing the work is really critical, which is why I started with that in the book, obviously. That's why the student and the community pieces first. That's what we have to start here. First you, then them, then the what. What I'm going to teach, what lessons we're going to engage in, what projects are you going to do? What assessments. We'll get to that later. You know what I mean? But there's this other piece, the human piece, that we got to address, you know?

Carla: Don't know if you are all familiar with Dr. Yolanda Reese's archeology of the cells. I've been in, in workshops with her on this, and it's been so healing cause to go through the process, and I also see, I was like, "Oh, we got to include her in this conversation too," because one of the character of characteristics of that process is also... Thinking about the historical context of where our ideas are coming from.

I love the notes section, the place to have notes in each chapter. There's a place where you can just like process. So, I have a page where I ran out space because... I basically, wrote out my plan that I'm going to share with my principal on a whole series that I want to do with my colleagues on... pero no…

Lorena: I believe you!
Yeah so, that piece, I was like, "I want some space to write."

Luz: I love that.

Lorena: I love writing in books.

Luz: Yeah.

Lorena: And I always got to do on the side or add a poster, which is cool, but I was like, "Or we could just also add a page."

Carla: No, this is a whole progression. This is like, what might it says, what might a progression of like this type of reflection look like at my school? Because what I appreciated too in this book and I know we're, we're coming up on time is that you Lorena, you are aware of the challenges that come up in taking this type of approach and you give recommendations. You name the challenge and you give recommendations for whether you're trying to go for student-centered teaching, or being flexible interdisciplinary work.
And then for those of us, you mentioned for some of us we've been doing this work for decades. It's not summer 2020 was our wakeup call like it was for some. We've been about this work, and you have that section at the end of each chapter when you have, it's called, "Adding a layer of texture." We're like, "All right, we already started this work. Where else can we go?" So, I just appreciate you. This has been so helpful for me. And thinking about this alignment is just making my own work stronger.

Luz: Yes. Thank you so much, Lorena. And just want to say that it's not about the book list. Right? It's not about the strategy's list. That is not our approach. Right? Yes, we can provide strategies, but the most important thing, I think, and this is a commonality in our books, it starts from within. Right? And once you are able to work on that mindset, on those ideologies and reflect on them, and really kind of do the work. Right? Then you can start creating and teaching what matters in a way that matters. And I think that's what is fundamentally the most important thing here. Right?

Lorena: Yeah, yes. Thanks for saying that, Luz. And thank you, Carla, for showing that book love. I also been showing you all some love. I keep turning over to it because I feel there's so much that... It's so practical, but it's so deep and thoughtful. And so I really appreciate that because sometimes a lot of these books about strategies are just that. I know that we want that. I know that we want the practicality, but it is not devoid of the theory behind it. It has to go hand in hand. And so I really love that about you all's book. That you said, "These people who look like me, who are me, we are important. And there's enough of us, that we need to really spend some dedicated time thinking about how to serve them better in our schools." Because historically our schools have not been good to us.

They have not. Generation over generation just to go back to the beginning. Right? About what you said Carla, how it stays with you. And it shapes how you parent, it shapes how you are in relationship with others, and it shapes how you are in relationship with yourself. And your community. And so I can't help, but think the ways that we have policies today that deep humanize other people, and we have ways that we interact with whole communities, and that we perceive whole communities that are dehumanizing and hurtful. And lead to racist and violent action.

And I wonder, how much of that is due to our education. Due to the books we read, the history were told. Right? The way numbers were used against whole groups of people, the way science was used to justify dehumanization. Anyway, I'll wrap it up by saying, I'm very grateful for this conversation. I'm very grateful for you all's work. It was healing, even for me. Going back, and remembering some of my own experiences, and thinking about the choices that my husband and I have made in raising our kids intentionally bilingual, intentionally making an effort to celebrate Spanish, and talk about indigeneity. Even though we don't have that language. And talk about our cultural practices from Dominican Republic, and making sure that that other isn't other. It's a lot

Luz: Yeah. Normalized.

Lorena: Right. It's just a lot of difference, and it's all good. And so your book felt affirming of who we are right now. So, Appreciate you so much.

Carla: That's the hope. And also thankful for Heinemann, for providing these opportunities and platforms for these conversations to continue. Because as you can see, they're like needed and they nourish our soul. They'll help us in our work as we keep going. So, thank you so much for that support.

Lorena: Thank you, Carla. Thank you, Luz. Get Textured Teaching, get En Comunidad.

Luz: Thank you.

lorenagermanLorena Escoto Germán is a Dominican American educator focused on anti-racist and antibias work in education. She earned her master's degree at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.

Lorena is a two-time nationally awarded educator whose work has been featured in newspapers and journals including The New York Times, NCTE journals, EdWeek, National Writing Project, and Embracing Equity. She is author of The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook. 

A cofounder of the groups #DisruptTexts and Multicultural Classroom, Lorena is the director of pedagogy at EduColor and Chair of NCTE's Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. Of all her work, Lorena is most dedicated to her roles as wife and mami.

Lorena is the author of Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices.

carlaespana-1Carla España, Ph.D. is a middle-grade language arts teacher, literacy consultant, researcher, author, and co-founder of the En Comunidad Collective. Her love of stories and teaching comes from her roots in Chile and has been nurtured by hundreds of teachers and students across schools in New York City and beyond.

Her teaching, research, coaching, and writing live at the intersection of critical literacies, children’s literature, and bilingual education. Dr. España is co-author of En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students with Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera. Find her on Twitter @ProfesoraEspana.

luzherrera-1Luz Yadira Herrera, Ph.D.is a teacher, researcher, author, and co-founder of the En Comunidad Collective. Dr. Herrera has over sixteen years of experience in the education of emergent bilinguals in both mainstream and bilingual settings. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education in the School of Education at California State University, Channel Islands.

Dr. Herrera's teaching and research are in culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogy, translanguaging, critical pedagogies, and bilingual education policy. She is the co-author of En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual Latinx Students with Dr. Carla España. Find her on Twitter @Dra_LuzYadira.


Topics: Podcast, Heinemann Podcast, Spanish, Lorena Germán, Carla España, En Comunidad, Luz Yadira Herrera, Textured Teaching

Date Published: 02/17/22

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