While teaching about race/ethnicity and class from a critical pedagogical standpoint, not only might we encounter student resistance to learning about systems of domination, but we should also be aware of the ways that power, privilege, and exclusion in the larger society may be reproduced in our own classrooms. In this article, we recount how we used free-writes and various discussions in an attempt to deconstruct the power dynamics in an upper division seminar on Latinas/os and education. Though a majority of the students were first generation Latinas, middle and upper middle class white students were more likely to share their perspectives and experiences in the course. This resulted in a situation where class discussions were steered away from the focus of Latinas/os and unequal educational practices to a perspective that reinforced an ideology of equality and a climate that privileged dominant modes of classroom communication. Our experiences suggest that deconstructing classroom dynamics and engaging in collaborative teaching can create more democratic spaces that enhance student learning and challenge hegemonic teaching practices and classroom structures.

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