Scholar Stories: Soledad Bautista

How do you use writing or art in your life?

Art in all its forms has saved my life many, many times. It has saved me from depression, fear, change, loneliness, anxiety, and many of life’s other unexpected battles. I use writing because it creates. It creates spaces, emotions, and new ideas. This helps because it not only allows you to express something deep inside you, but it also allows you to connect with someone who might be feeling the same way.  In my family, words are very important. Words can be philosophical conversations that might lead to intense and passionate arguments about life and humanity. Words can be storytelling with memories or music. In Guadalajara, food is a very important language, as well. 

No matter the form words and language take, I incorporate all of it in in my teaching! It is so important to create a classroom community that values and respects communication. Communication is a skill that is universal and allows for connectivity and understanding. To create this classroom community,  reflection and respect for voices has to be at the core.  This allows me to create brave spaces where all my students know that anything they would like to share will be heard and acknowledged. There are so many ways to build this type of community. For instance, oral speaking skills can be developed through storytelling. Everyone should know how to tell their stories or stories that are important to them. In Spanish, there is a saying “Verbo mata carita.” Verbo doesn’t mean ‘verb’ here: it refers to lexicon, vocabulary, wit, humor, and spice. This say means, “Intelligence kills beauty.” What is most important is your mind and the way it can help connect you to the people around you. You should only love the people that you can tell, listen, share, and create stories with. 

What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to make more mistakes. Write that book, play, or essay. Ask the person you like out. Book that flight. Camp, climb, bungee jump, and ride the motorcycle. Kiss more often and hug more often. I would want my younger self to live as fearlessly as I try to live now. 

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

My solid advice to new scholars or teachers would be to pay attention to the moment we are living right now and think about what is most important to your students’ lives.  Never, ever create your teaching practice around a test. Never, ever learn something to pass a test. Plan your instruction with the end in mind and adjust according to your own assessment/feedback system. The meaning of education has nothing to do with standardized anything. Until all humans are identical and live identical lives, a standard is not relevant. Teach how to think, how to question (even when it challenges you), how to use your voice, and how to transcend.

Something else you want to share?

Education is an art. It is beautiful,  and it makes the world a better place. It is so important to never stop learning. Not many people believe that educating is an “art” anymore. This type of art requires patience, time,  and trial and error. It’s constantly changing,  and it is affected by many many variables. You might not always be able to see the “final piece,” but the seeds you plant are going to show.

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