When teaching Hispanic Heritage Month, we have to remember to remain culturally relevant and avoid microaggressions—seemingly small actions that indirectly or subtly insult diverse students.
1. The history, accomplishments, and culture of Hispanic Americans should not be reserved for just one month. Integrate these lessons throughout the year so that students know that their cultures are an important part of our country’s fabric.
2. Do not expect students to speak for all Hispanics, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, etc. Remember that just because a student is Hispanic does not mean that they have been to a Latin American country, that they actively engage in the culture, or that they even consider themselves to be from a Latin American country. Every student has the right to choose their own identity.
3. Build empathy by talking about both the celebrations and struggles of Hispanics and other minority groups. Avoid approaching Latino history as only a history of oppression and a fight for civil rights, which can appear as “deficit-centered” to students
4. Research well anything you teach. Make sure that you are getting your information from reliable sources. Otherwise, you are likely to perpetuate stereotypes. Consider having someone from the culture look over your lesson before presenting it to your students. This is important even if you are Hispanic if you are teaching about the culture of a group of people with who have a culture different than your own.
5. Be deep in your lessons to avoid superficial characterizations of Hispanic cultures. If your students learn a song, have them learn about the musical history of the place the song is from. Have them explore famous singers who have impacted the lives of Hispanic Americans. If your students learn a dance, have them learn about the different dances that characterize Hispanic cultures and the significances of the dances.
By keeping these tips in mind, you are more likely to have a strong Hispanic Heritage Month celebration without unintentionally committing microaggressions with your students.