A.B. in The Classics, Harvard '14
San Diego, CA
I have three Yorkies--Emma, Edgar and Pika.
Q&A with Gerardo Lagunes
What is possible for your students?
I firmly believe anything is possible for them. They are 10. I want my students to have the choice to achieve their dreams. I want them to navigate, if not dismantle, the white hetero-cis patriarchy — a system that has already tried to write them off and limit their possibilities. To sound cliche, if they want to grow up to be lawyers, good. If they want to be bankers, great. If they want to grow up and run KIPP San Antonio to serve the communities they were raised in, awesome. It’s their future, and I want them to have endless possibilities.
How are your students pushing toward that possibility?
By being able to identify systems of oppressions within texts and eventually to analyze the implications in the communities that surround them. For example, when discussing the internment of Native Americans into reservations, one student made a connection to the predatory housing practices that caused her home to be foreclosed.
How are you integrating your students’ culture/identity into your class?
Most important, I like Hot Cheetos and cheese. It’s the bedrock of my relationship with students and a point of contention with the Takis lovers. Being culturally responsive is more than teaching Esperanza Rising or House on Mango Street, the curriculum is not the only thing that should reflect their lived experiences. I try to integrate my students’ culture into my everyday practices and let them own our classroom. To name a few, I let them create their own attention getters for my class, and I display their artwork. For example, my advisory class decided “They see me rollin’, they hatin’” was going to be their attention getter. It’s a thing now.
Why is this important?
At one of my first teacher trainings, I remember the facilitator saying “If your students don’t love you, they won’t work for you.” I have found the inverse to be true as well; you have to love your students so that you can give your best work for them. In order to develop a mutual love and respect, you must get to know them as a whole person and that includes their family, experiences, and culture.