The Moral Ethic of Cariño: A Culturally Competent Approach to Working with Immigrant-Origin Students

  • Karla Lomelí
Keywords: culturally competent teaching, cariño, immigrant-origin students, inclusive literacy, critical literacy


This study provides a portrait of Ms. Grace, a veteran English teacher at a high school in Silicon Valley. I examine how Ms. Grace’s perspectives on her immigrant-origin Latine students informed her teaching, highlighting the perspectives and practices that guided her pedagogy. Analysis of the data demonstrates the cyclical nature of how this teacher’s perspectives on her students led her to embody a cultural competence that demonstrated a moral ethic of cariño. Through Ethnographic Case Study methodology, this study highlights the importance of cultivating cultural competencies in the teaching of immigrant-origin Latine youth, and the ways in which teachers enact and embody such competencies. I highlight how a moral ethic of cariño emerges in both the teaching practices and in the perspectives toward her immigrant-origin students, demonstrating the critical role that teachers play in providing a more inclusive learning space for the teaching of immigrant-origin Latine youth.