Name: Luz A. Maldonado Rodríguez
Title: Assistant Professor
Institution: Texas State University
TODOS has been an important part of my career since I first joined as a graduate student over 15 years ago. I am a Tejana, born and educated in the beautiful border city of El Paso. I could say that my career in education was forecasted since my childhood experiences of being the maestra when I played escuelita with my younger brothers, or the many years of helping out in the classrooms of my mother, a life-long bilingual educator. My commitment and continued drive towards improving the mathematics education opportunities of Latinx students and historically marginalized students, however, is the cumulative effect of both understanding the power of the mathematical thinking of all children, as well as recognizing the effects of systemic educational inequities that I have observed as a bilingual classroom teacher in Houston, TX, and then as graduate student and emerging educational researcher in New York and Texas.
Currently an assistant professor in bilingual mathematics education at Texas State University, my research interests have always aligned with understanding and identifying the mathematical brilliance of elementary children, particularly bilingual students. I am fascinated by the role of language in mathematics learning and have been fortunate to work with students and teachers in New York, Texas, Arkansas and Florida, both through my research, and as a professional development consultant. I learn the most when sitting with a group of children and getting to ask ¿y comó lo sabes? how do you know that, about their problem solving and then working alongside their teachers on how to continue to support both teacher and student learning. I have been involved in various studies to understand the role of translanguaging in the mathematics classroom, as well as observing and documenting discussion practices that allow students’ mathematical thinking to drive learning and instruction. I have had the opportunity to share this knowledge through various publications and through presentations at national conferences such as TODOS and the TODOS strands at NCTM.
My role as a teacher educator for over ten years has also been influenced by the classrooms and teachers that I have worked with. It is the continued relationship with schools and communities that has helped me to reflect deeply and adjust my university teaching towards better preparing future elementary teachers. One of my current research studies, a cross-university study, is to learn how preservice teachers understand and view the role of culture in mathematics teaching and learning. Given Texas State’s status as Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the results of this study will help us better understand the kinds of conversations and learning experiences needed in teacher education in order to prepare critical teachers who can push back against deficit narratives about Latinx and marginalized students. Because of collaborations with teachers and schools, I have also been able to share examples of rehumanizing mathematics lessons conducted in elementary classrooms which ultimately empower children to believe mathematics can be used to both reveal and identify inequities that exist in the world around them. I firmly believe that authentic, sustained relationships between universities, schools, and parents, and ultimately building strong learning communities, is one step towards changing the educational outcomes of our most vulnerable and historically marginalized students.
Building such relationships, and continuing to elevate the voices of teachers, parents, and students is how I view my role, if elected to the TODOS Board. As active member in both national organizations such as the AERA Bilingual Education SIG and PMENA, as well as local educator organizations such as AAABE (Austin Area Association for Bilingual Educators), I recognize the balance needed to be both an effective leader and a learner. I will continue to be an advocate for students and their families and for the increasement of their participation in schools and classrooms. Throughout all the experiences that I listed here, the common thread is that the brilliance, creativity and ingenuity is already present. It will require all allies, from university researchers/educators, to teachers, parents and students to disrupt the current inequitable education structures that continue to enforce labels on our students and finds them lacking. TODOS juntos we can!