The idea behind Rising Up: Create Your Own Path came from firsthand experience of how crucial role models can be for dual-language students. As a teacher at a dual- language school in Fremont, California, I prepared my students for the state writing test by assigning them frequent writing prompts.
One day, I asked them to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. My Spanish speakers all wrote that they wanted to be cooks, gardeners, and housekeepers-- roles consistent with their parents' occupations. These are all honorable occupations, ones that allowed their parents to provide for their families. But the exercise made it very clear to me that the students did not have any professional role models in their lives-- and that lack of possibilities was limiting what they could envision for their futures.
To expose my students to other occupations that could broaden their perspectives, I held a Latinx Professional Career Day. I invited Spanish bilingual professionals, including doctors, attorneys, therapists, and many others to talk with my students. The next day, I asked them once again to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Every student responded by writing about the professions the class had been exposed to. It was a crystal-clear demonstration of the importance of exposing students to professional role models who look and speak like them.
I continued to host Latinx Career Days throughout my career. Eventually, I realized that I needed a way to reach many more schools and students. A book could have that reach.
Continue reading to find out more about Rising Up…