Featured Teaching Librarian: Eva Rios-Alvarado

Several times a year, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning. Eva Rios-Alvardo

Name:

Eva Rios-Alvarado

Institution:

Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC)

Job Title:

Student Equity & Outreach Librarian

Number of Years Teaching: 

5

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time? 

I love dancing, singing, drumming, and being in community spaces. I have been in and out of Los Angeles (LA) capoeira communities since my time at CSU, Los Angeles in the mid-2000s. My capoeira teachers at CSULA, Delilah and Greg, were instrumental to my teaching development. Until recently, through reflective work, I did not piece together just how important their wisdom, approaches, and passions helped my own teaching philosophy, rhythm, and methods. I currently train, learn, and grow with Charles Williams, Sols in Motion, and the Eastside Café in El Sereno. Training with Charles, Rodney, and Ian has helped me learn to trust men. To me, this action is very healing as I have never had positive relationships with men or positive male role models. I also learn how to support the learning needs of men of color through learning from what they share and how we train and grow in community.

What’s your favorite Ice Cream?  

My favorite ice cream flavors are banana, nuez (walnut) and pistachio. The best banana ice cream I have ever had in my life was in Cambridge, MA at Toscanini’s. When I lived in Boston for my master’s program at Simmons University, I remember one year, for my birthday, my archivist homegirl, Leticia Ramos, and I got a banana ice cream cake. It was so legendary! We talk about that cake to this day — I’m serious. My favorite place to get ice cream in LA is Mateo’s on Pico and Crenshaw. If you get there on some nights you will see the street pizza vendor. Mateo’s represents some of the yummiest ice cream and paletas out of the Oaxacan community in LA hoods. Street vendors and local spots like Mateo’s are my favorite places to eat in LA. Many people will say bad things about Los Angeles food, but it’s because they are not eating from the delicacies of the calle (street) and what the real LA community has as far as food knowledge, wisdom, and sazón.

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class). 

My favorite activity to do with students is not very high tech or innovative. I like to connect with students at a level playing field when we enter the class by having a quick check-in. By just saying hello and asking students how they are, I can equalize the classroom. Not everyone will be receptive, but this simple grounding technique can help orient students, yourself, and simply kindly remind them of what the goals are in the session and how they relate to students’ learning.

What is your favorite class to teach and why? 

My favorite class topics to teach are about developing research topics, editing Wikipedia, and transitioning and teaching students to college level research and library methods. In 2017, I led a student equity funded project to co-design, implement, and teach a college-level, information literacy escape room, called Zombie Outbreak, for student equity populations on campus. Colleague Brian Young, who is a librarian at Rio Hondo College now, and I  integrated principles of gaming, interactive learning, and student equity into our instructional workshop. Students, staff, and faculty who have been part of this non-traditional information literacy escape room workshop have shared that it’s one of the most creative, informative, and fun activities by the Mt. SAC Library. What I enjoy about teaching this workshop is that, at the core, librarians can use their innovation to share how and why the library is important to all students, and even more important to students with low wealth, housing insecurity, resource insecurity, and those students who just need supporters. I try to remind my campus community, when I can, that librarians are research allies and libraries are some of our only FREE public spaces in society.

What’s your teaching philosophy?  

I would say my teaching is grounded in educational theory of the democratic classroom and Xicana, Black, Indigenous feminist epistemology and wisdom. The democratic classroom aims to not create a hierarchy in the learning power dynamic. As a child, teen, and adult, I was educated or I should say indoctrinated, with thinking I had nothing to offer in the classroom and I would only learn from listening and being like teachers who looked and acted nothing like me. I could never really identify or replicate what was demanded of me in K-12 and it wasn’t until higher education that I really understood I was incapable of being those teachers and their ways of learning and knowing. What the democratic classroom does is it places value in the experiences and wisdom of everyone in the classroom. It ensures students are teaching the instructor just as much as the instructor is teaching the students. We all learn together and to me this is real, transformative, and community-driven learning. I recommend the books Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom by bell hooks and Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach by Paulo Freire for more on these concepts and reflecting on teaching and learning in practice and theory.

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