Cultural competence is a critical skill teachers must posses if they are going to connect with racially diverse students. Misunderstanding or ignorance of the Latino value system, history, and culture create barriers between teachers and students that significantly deteriorate their potential for learning. Consider how you would typically greet a friend or a relative. Perhaps you would shake hands or even hug. In the Latino culture, it’s common to greet loved ones with an embrace and a kiss on the cheek. Anything less may be taken as an affront. If something as simple as “hello” can create tension, how challenging is it to navigate teaching and learning in the classroom? Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes takes a close look at interactions between Latino students and Non-Latino teachers in ways that develop and expand the cultural competence of teachers. Preservice and veteran educators alike will benefit from current research and theories on Latinos and education as well as the personal essays presenting that reveal the raw perspective of Latinos as they deal with racism and marginalization. Educators will have a deeper understanding of the Latino experience and practical strategies for creating a positive and safe environment for learning.
Tammy Oberg De La Garza, is an Associate Professor and Director of Dual Language Teacher Leadership at Roosevelt University. She began her career as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, and teaches and conducts research in dual language, literacy, social equity, and learning within Latino communities. In her book, Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes, Tammy and co-author Alyson Leah Lavigne traverse the White and Latino cultures on a daily basis, use essays written by Latinx authors to uncover past missteps and explore culturally responsive ways of engaging Latino students in learning.She lives in Chicago with her husband, Rey and their young adult children, Sierra and Alex.
Alyson Leah Lavigne is an Assistant Professor at Utah State University, and researcher of teacher evaluation. In her book, Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes, Alyson and co-author Tammy Oberg De La Garza traverse the White and Latino cultures on a daily basis, use essays written by Latinx authors to uncover past missteps and explore culturally responsive ways of engaging Latino students in learning. She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, Erick and two sons, Leonardo and Santiago.