El Instituto: Centering Language, Culture, and Power in Bilingual Teacher Professional Development
Teacher education programs have the obligation to prepare bilingual teachers, new and established, to challenge pervasive deficit and racist ideologies, to cultivate students’ identities/knowledges, and to thwart oppressive ideologies through counter-hegemonic discourses. This paper presents a case study of El Instituto, one Hispanic Serving Institution’s immersive professional development program for Spanish-speaking bilingual teachers in Los Angeles County. Conducted entirely in Spanish, the program aimed to center teachers’ sociocultural realities and community cultural wealth while honoring their linguistic capital, deepening their Spanish-language knowledge, and developing critical consciousness. Findings suggest that utilizing a sociocultural approach to simultaneously study Spanish language and critical pedagogy while centering teachers’ community cultural wealth led to deep insights about intersections of languages and culture within larger power structures that cultivate systemic oppression. However, epistemological shifts about fostering more humanizing and critical professional development for bilingual educators are necessary to achieve these goals.
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