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Book Release: Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes

Imagine you’ve just arrived at a salsa dance class, only to discover that you’re the only person wearing gym shoes. Suddenly, you feel ill equipped and out of place. Your ability to master this beautiful dance is severely hindered.

Expanding on this metaphor, Tammy Oberg de la Garza and Alyson L. Lavigne, explore troublesome cultural gaps Latino students often face in school. The book addresses several themes such as the historical context of racial discrimination, identity issues, loss of one’s language, immigration, bilingualism, cultural heritage, and other barriers Latino’s have faced and still face today. Each chapter combines personal essays with research and theory in order to get the reader to step into the shoes of a Latino student and understand their world. Each chapter then ends with effective classroom practices that all teachers can use to interact with their Latino students more efficiently.

Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes: Developing Cultural Competence to Foster Latino Student Success aims to help develop and expand the cultural competence of preservice and veteran teachers that aren’t wearing the same “shoes” as Latino students and helps educators gain practical strategies to create positive and safe learning environments for their Latino students.

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This book is a must read for all teachers that work with the Latino population. It brought back memories of my own educational experiences and I resonated with so many of the stories, but I also realized that school never taught me to teach Latino students like me- which brought me to adapt Anglo-teaching methods… this book really opened my eyes, taught me to unlearn old practices, and learn new methods to teach my (future) students effectively. – Abigail Sanchez

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