Inclusive Teaching and Research 

Lennie Amores 

My commitment to diversity and inclusion stems from my personal and professional paths as an African American, first-generation college graduate. Through my bicultural family and raising a bilingual child, I recognize the enriching value of multiple perspectives. My involvement in organizations like the Asociación de Estudios de Género y Sexualidad, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, and the Race in Spain Reading Group (TRECE) is a major part of my work. It keeps me actively engaged in conversations around equity, accessibility, and inclusion. Additionally, my coursework on Universal Design for Learning principles informs my teaching philosophy — I aim to create welcoming environments where all students are represented, empowered to share ideas, and have their voices heard. I believe in fostering intercultural dialogue around complex issues and mentoring the next 

generation of diverse scholars to promote more inclusive and socially conscious academic spaces.

My forthcoming book project, Multiracial Spain: Conversations for the Classroom, promotes racially inclusive teaching of Spanish culture and fills a gap in accessible pedagogical resources that foster cultural competence. Using a multiliteracies approach, it aims to inspire meaningful classroom conversations about race relations in Spain and develop students’ language confidence and critical engagement with complex cultural issues. Additionally, I have co-authored an open educational Spanish resource, Nuestra comunidad latina, which reflects critically on US Latino cultures and has helped my Latinx students better understand and connect with their family histories. Understanding that novice heritage learners require differentiated practice without disavowing their own speech, I have also developed translingual teaching materials currently in use at two HBCUs. For example, I am collaborating with Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) and Morgan State University to create Ecologías hispanas, a second-semester open education resource that uses an ecocritical lens to prioritize sustainable communities in the Spanish-speaking world. My scholarship demonstrates an enduring commitment to inclusive and equitable language teaching practices.

I believe diverse perspectives are key to innovating solutions for complex issues. As classrooms grow more racially diverse, I make it a priority to cultivate inclusion where students are empowered to participate, exchange ideas, relate to each other’s experiences, and even respectfully disagree. For example, in my Spanish courses comprised of first-generation, inner city, rural and suburban students, I design activities for students to compare our campus’ diversity to their hometowns. We discuss themes of identity, race, and ethnicity in the target language like “Reading y mi lugar” and “El mestizaje y la identidad”. I start most classes with communal activities for students across backgrounds to intermingle and get comfortable interacting. I have observed that without structured inclusion practices, student cliques emerge that can isolate individuals and limit collective growth. My teaching materials portray the rich ethnic diversity of my students, who I get to know as individuals first to nurture a sense of belonging for all. Beyond teaching, I actively mentor the next generation of diverse researchers by engaging undergraduates in projects on race and culture, leading to conference presentations and teaching tools.

My coursework and experiences have taught me that learning styles and needs vary greatly across individuals and cultures. I incorporate Universal Design for Learning techniques in my teaching, like storytelling, hands-on activities, role play, music and more to engage diverse students. For example, in one Spanish assignment, a student composed and performed an original rap song on the ukulele as his video project. Providing options for creativity and self-expression motivates learner participation. Additionally, all my course materials mirror the ethnic diversity of my classes.

I actively collaborate with campus offices to promote accessibility and inclusion. This includes implementing best practices for accessible documents, leveraging tools like text-to-speech and speech-to-text, and co-creating resources usable for all. I completed training on Google and Apple accessibility applications, as well as Quality Matters standards for accessible online instruction.

Fundamentally, I believe fostering inclusion involves understanding each student’s uniqueness while also building community through shared narratives. My goal is for students of all backgrounds and abilities to feel equally welcome, valued and empowered in my classroom. Promoting a culture of belonging sets the stage for reaching and engaging all learner types.