Despertando el Ser

Transforming Latino Teachers’ Identities, Consciousness, and Beliefs

by Belinda Bustos Flores (Volume editor) Ellen Riojas Clark (Volume editor)
©2017 Textbook XXVIII, 202 Pages


This collection of essays presents a theoretically grounded and research-based process in which the multiple facets of self are explored. While these facets have been studied in the literature using universal theories, Despertando el Ser posits that it is important to generate our own epistemological understandings grounded in the lived experience of Latina/o educators. Moving away from majoritarian perspectives of teacher personal development, using a sociocultural and critical theory kaleidoscopic lens, this book critically examines the notion of Latino teacher identities and other facets of self. Despertando el Ser theorizes that a Latino teacher’s identity is an intersection between the personal and professional selves consisting of ethnic/cultural identities, consciousness, beliefs, and motives for teaching. Presented in Despertando el Ser is an awakening of self as an ethnic/cultural being, exploring positionality and consciousness, and unearthing our beliefs about learning and teaching. Using varied methodologies, this book provides chapters in which the facets of self are uncovered and explored within diverse educational contexts. Each chapter provides questions to assist the reader to engage in critical reflection. This book can be used for teacher candidates, teachers in practice, teacher educators, and researchers.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Despertando el Ser
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Figures
  • Tables
  • Foreword: Awaken my people!—¡Coño despierta boricua! (Antonia Darder)
  • Beyond the Culture of Forgetting
  • The Collectivity of Critical Awakening
  • Despertando as Liberatory Praxis
  • Taking Destiny in our own Hands
  • References
  • Preface: Illuminating the Despertando el Ser Transformational Process (Belinda Bustos Flores / Ellen Riojas Clark)
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part One: Grounding Our Epistemological Raíces
  • Chapter One: Despertando el Ser: Awakening the Ethnic Identity and Consciousness of Latino Teachers (Belinda Bustos Flores / Ellen Riojas Clark)
  • Introduction
  • Context
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Latino Teachers’ Role
  • Teacher and Student Relationships
  • Intersection of Ethnicity/Culture with Identity and Developmental Theory
  • Despertando El Ser
  • Ethnic Identity
  • Acculturation/Affinity
  • Bicultural/Ethnolinguistic Identity
  • Efficacy
  • Epistemological Beliefs
  • Motives for Teaching
  • Teacher Identity: Confluence of Multiple Self, Knowing, and Learning
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter Two: Porque soy lo que soy: Weaving a Theoretical Perspective to Understand Latino Teachers’ Identities and Positionalities (Daniel Alejandro González / Ellen Riojas Clark)
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Hegemony
  • Effects of Hegemony on Social and Professional Identities
  • Ethnic Identity
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Class
  • Critical Reflection on Teacher Identities, Positionalities, and Pedagogies
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion and Reflection Questions
  • References
  • Part Two: Transforming Self and the World
  • Chapter Three: Mexican American Teachers: Transforming Educational Injustice Through Pedagogies of Lived Experience (Lilliana Patricia Saldaña)
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framework: Chicana Feminist Epistemologies of Lived Experience
  • Methodology
  • Memories of Schooling and Epistemologies of Teaching/learning
  • The Emergence of a Chicana Teacher Consciousness
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter Four: Cultivating Aspirantes’ Spanish Proficiency, Ethnolinguistic Identity, and Ideology (Belinda Bustos Flores / Amalia Guirao)
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Rationale
  • Methodology
  • Research Questions
  • Setting
  • Description of Spanish Language Support Services
  • Case Studies
  • Celeste
  • Marissa
  • Daniela
  • Julissa
  • Gertudis
  • Cross-Case Analysis
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter Five: Mí Concientización: Unraveling Aspirantes’ Ideological Beliefs (Belinda Bustos Flores / Lisa Santillán)
  • Introduction
  • Rationale
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Identity, Affinity, Motives, and Role
  • Efficacy Beliefs
  • Epistemological Beliefs
  • Methodology
  • Quantitative Data Procedures
  • Qualitative Data Procedures
  • Participants
  • Data Analysis
  • BE Aspirantes’ Personal Ideologies: Results and Findings
  • Exploring Identity and Affinity Development
  • Examining Motivation for Pursuing BE Teacher Education
  • Understanding Personal Efficacy Beliefs
  • Unearthing Personal Epistemological Beliefs
  • Ideological Beliefs and Projected Cultural Teaching Practices: Results and Findings
  • Bilingual/Bicultural Critical Pedagogy
  • Use of Linguistic and Cultural Assets
  • Acquisition and Construction of Knowledge
  • Social Justice Motives and Vision
  • Discussion
  • Limitations
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter Six: Latina and Mexicana STEM Educators’ Concientización: Desenterrando los Motivos para Enseñar (Claudia Verdín / Lorena Claeys)
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framework: Sociocultural Capital Lens
  • STEM Education Journey
  • Capitalizing Cultural Capital Wealth Through Expansive Stem Learning
  • Motivation to Teach in the STEM Fields
  • Methodology
  • Findings and Discussion
  • Family Support, Early Exposure, and Role Models
  • Passion and Motives for Teaching
  • Encountered Barriers and Challenges
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Part Three: Actualizating Self and Practices
  • Chapter Seven: Descubriendo el Ser: Metamorphic Journey for Becoming Culturally Efficacious (Ellen Riojas Clark / Belinda Bustos Flores)
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Metamorphic Transformational Journey
  • Methodology
  • Descubriendo El Ser: Awakening Ethnic and Cultural Identity
  • Building Teacher Relationships with Students and Community
  • Cultural Efficacious Journey
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter Eight: Keepin’ It Real: Latino Teachers Enacting Cultural Transformation (Lisa Santillán)
  • Introduction
  • Rationale
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Methodology
  • Data Collection
  • Participants
  • Setting
  • Data Sources
  • Case Studies
  • Cross-Case Analysis
  • Classrooms and Schools as Spaces of Change
  • Latina/o Teachers Taking Center Stage
  • Teachers Building Community in their Classrooms
  • Culturally Efficacious Educators
  • Discussion
  • Teachers’ Epistemological Perspectives Being Culturally Efficacious Teachers
  • Funds of Knowledge (FOK)
  • Enacting Concientización
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Chapter Nine: El Renacer De Maestras Bilingües: Exploring Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Culturally Efficacious Dispositions (Claudia Treviño García)
  • Methodology
  • Cross Case Study Comparison
  • Case Study One: Carolina
  • Case Study Two: Ofelia
  • Commonalities Between Carolina and Ofelia
  • Sociocultural Consciousness
  • Affirming Advocacy
  • Culturally Responsive Practices
  • Differences Between Carolina and Ofelia
  • Sociocultural Consciousness
  • Affirming Advocacy
  • Culturally Responsive Practices
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Ten: Así Seremos: Our Sabiduría as Actualization (Ellen Riojas Clark / Belinda Bustos Flores)
  • Introduction
  • Grounding Our Epistemological Raíces
  • Transforming Self and the World
  • Actualizing Self and Practices
  • Conclusion
  • Discussion Questions
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


Figure 1.1. Despertando el Ser: Transformation of Self

Figure 7.1. Metamorphosis of Identity Process

| ix →


Table 5.1. Factors and Thematic Analysis

Table 5.2. Identity and Affinity

Table 5.3. Motivation for Teaching Profession

Table 5.4. Personal Efficacy Beliefs

Table 5.5. Personal Epistemological Beliefs

Table 5.6. Cultural Teaching Beliefs

Table 6.1. First University Degrees in US and Mexico, by Gender, Field, and Ethnicity: 2011 or Most Recent Year

| xi →


Awaken My People!—¡Coño despierta boricua!


I am reminded of a Puerto Rican or Boricua folksong as a revolutionary call to a colonized nation:

Cuando veas el arrebol,

el arrebol del sol que en oriente sale

cuando escuchas mis cantares y oigas un pueblo que grita:

¡Coño despierta boricua!


The phrase loosely translates to “Damn it, awaken Boricua!” It speaks to a colonized people who must first awaken to the consciousness of their own oppression, if they are to shed their disempowerment and move toward a transformation of individual and collective lives. This concept of despertando or awakening, however, is most often associated with discourses of the spiritual life, with reference to the awakening of the divine force that imbues our materiality as human beings. In this book, however, Belinda Bustos Flores and Ellen Riojas Clark embrace the concept of awakening as a pedagogical thread, which weaves together the different ways in which Latino teachers come to an awakening of their cultural selfhood and communal understanding of political issues of inequality, which persist within the context of U.S. schooling and the larger society. In this sense, the stories in this volume bear witness to an understanding of despertando as a political imperative in the formation of Latino teachers, if we are to awaken from the assimilative burden of the culture of forgetting.← xi | xii →


The ideas and insights expressed across the pages of this book resonate in many ways with my work as an educator, but even more deeply with my own history as a Latina in the U.S. subjected to colonizing educational practices that unmercifully attempted to usher my barrio peers and I into a culture of forgetting—pedagogical spaces of banking education (Freire, 1971) that rejected our native tongue and demanded we uncritically adopt the hegemonic values imposed upon us by the dominant culture. Schools as zones of cultural forgetting violently resist our memories of cultural belonging, comfort, security, and well-being. The politics of cultural forgetting persists through teacher classroom practices that erode community ties, gradually stripping Latino students of their intimate cultural bonds and lived histories. The consequences are assimilative educational processes of teacher education that are extended into the school, leaving Latino students defenseless and devoid of the cultural anchor tied to significant cognitive predispositions (Darder, 2012)—dispositions that can effectively assist them in becoming critically literate and evolve as empowered subjects of history (Freire & Macedo, 1987).

Unfortunately, assimilative mainstream classroom policies and practices also erode the capacity of Latino teachers to engage in culturally responsive ways, instead leading them to, wittingly or unwittingly, socialize their students into hyper-individualistic identities as consumer-citizens, which functions in service to the political economy of the nation-state. Generally absent is a sustained engagement with conditions of inequality as experienced by both Latino teachers and their students, beyond traditional aspirations to individual material success as the most important measure of personal value and academic success. Similarly, victim-blaming notions persist, pushing Latino teachers and students, overtly or covertly, to forget their primary culture and, in the process, stunt emancipatory consciousness, in exchange for prescribed and domesticating perspectives exclusively of the dominant society.

As would be expected, Latino teachers and students often internalize negative stereotypes and projections. In response, they may strive, consciously or unconsciously, to disassociate from their language and culture, as a social and pedagogical survival mechanism. As such, both Latino teachers and students can experience shame linked to their cultural identity and language community. In some instances, young Latino children may even refuse to speak Spanish in the family, insisting on answering and speaking to their parents in English—which they already begin to perceive in their young minds as the legitimate language of power. So powerful is the ← xii | xiii → hegemony of English in the United States that Latino students are primed by subtractive schooling practices (Valenzuela, 1999) and aspire to English-only dreams.

In light of this, what is most fiercely at the heart of this book is a deeply sincere effort to challenge the debilitating pedagogical processes of colonizing education, through speaking the unspeakable and shattering the invisibility of Latino identities. By doing so, Flores and Clark have skillfully compiled essays by Latino educators that speak directly and indirectly to the phenomenon of cultural and linguistic oppression and offer strategies and messages of hope to move us beyond the culture of forgetting. Equally significant here is the manner in which Latino teachers bear witness to their own awakening to consciousness, offering insights into their personal journeys of confronting and transgressing classroom inequalities, as they have struggled to embrace their cultural identity and engage education as a larger transformative project of conscientization.


Paulo Freire conceptualized Conscientização, or the awakening of critical awareness, as well as social transformation as collective human processes that emerge from our relationship with the world and in the process of our labor as teachers in classrooms and communities. The struggle for change begins precisely the moment when human beings become both critically aware and intolerant of the oppressive conditions in which we find ourselves and begin to struggle and push toward new ways of knowing and being in the world. This also signals moments of consciousness when individuals experience a breakthrough and collectively move deliberately to take another path, despite uncertain futures. Freire (1998) considered the process of conscientization an essential dimension of a decolonizing pedagogy, in that it opens the field for the expression of new epistemological possibilities and, thus, the empowerment of both students and teachers. Hence, conscientization “is one of the roads we have to follow if we are to deepen our awareness of the world” (Freire, 1998, p. 55).

Freire conceived of social consciousness as a dialectical process that develops and evolves, as we each contend collectively or in the community (Darder, 2015). It is, moreover, through our consciously emancipatory expression of theory and practice, within the actual social and material conditions of our labor, that we come to discover the best ways to transgress, intervene, and reinvent classroom practices in the interest of cultural democracy. Rather than adhere to prescribed roles and structures that oppress and weaken our humanity, teachers are urged toward the ← xiii | xiv → awakening of critical awareness with respect to self, others, and the world, by way of a critical praxis that requires our on-going participation as cultural citizens and conscious subjects of the historical moment. From this perspective, both knowledge and sabiduria (wisdom) are informed and emanate critically from the evolving histories and experiences that we as human beings share each day. And, thus, moments of awakening to critical consciousness or “the breakthrough of a new form of awareness in understanding the world is not the privilege of one person. The experience that makes possible the ‘breakthrough’ is a collective experience” (Freire, 1998 p. 77).

This revolutionary understanding of critical awakening entails the organic formation of an intimate relationship between consciousness, human action, the world as it is, and the world we seek to reinvent. Most importantly, the emphasis is placed on communal sensibilities and social circumstances essential to the cultural transformation of education. The powerful collective dimension to this formation of critical consciousness, then, is that it requires that it take place within and emerge from the histories of the oppressed, in that society cannot evolve and transform in their absence. More specifically, “we cannot liberate the others, people cannot liberate themselves alone, because people liberate themselves in communion, mediated by reality which they must transform” (Davis, 1981, p. 62). The process of critical awakening must evolve from on-going relationships between human beings and their world. In this view, we come to consciousness through a widening capacity for solidarity and the deepening of an integral rationality. One where subjective and objective knowledge, mind and body, matter and spirit, human beings and the natural world coexist in a perpetual dance that resists the negation of oppression. It is precisely this multidimensional epistemological tension of awakening consciousness that is best reflected in a variety of ways by the essays that give life and meaning to Despertando el Ser.



ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (November)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XVIII, 202 pp., 2 b/w ill., 7 tables

Biographical notes

Belinda Bustos Flores (Volume editor) Ellen Riojas Clark (Volume editor)

Belinda Bustos Flores, Ph.D., is Professor and Associate Dean of Professional Preparation, Assessment, and Accreditation at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research focus includes teacher identity, efficacy, and beliefs. Flores was the recipient of the 2015 AERA Hispanic Research Issues SIG Elementary, Secondary, and Postsecondary Research Award. Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research examines self-concept, ethnic/cultural identity, gifted language minority students, teacher development, and efficacy. Clark was the recipient of the 2012 AERA Hispanic Research Issues SIG Elementary, Secondary, and Postsecondary Research Award.


Title: Despertando el Ser
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