ENACTING HUMANIZING & DEMOCRATIZING PEDAGOGIES
This work is a series of self-studies that share and analyze my own teaching practices in middle-school social studies classrooms. Two pedagogical examples -- a self-organized learning environment focused on social issues and social action as well as dual-language civics -- show how I have tried to enact humanizing and democratizing pedagogies. Through the lens of my own practice, I argue that teachers' vulnerability and relinquishing of control is a critical step in this process.
TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY CIVICS: STUDENTS AS CHANGE AGENTS
This research strand will analyze case studies of innovative pedagogy, both in and out of traditional school settings, that is focused on cultivating youth as civic and social change agents. Drawing on case studies from Wisconsin, Peru, and Mexico, this work will show how engaging students in a social issues curriculum that cultivates community partnership and youth leadership is a powerful way to enact democracy in the classroom and the community.
INQUIRY-BASED SOCIAL STUDIES: OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES (pending IRB)
This longitudinal study examines how a local school district moves toward inquiry-based social studies teaching through a systematic curriculum review process. In addition to survey data, this study consists of a series of observational case studies of teachers participating in the review process in order to understand the opportunities and challenges for moving toward inquiry in their classrooms.
STUDY ABROAD IN TEACHER EDUCATION (pending IRB)
Intended to study a short-term study abroad experience in Peru for education majors, this research will look at how teachers make sense of their study abroad experience and its impact on their teaching once they are in a classroom full-time, including as student teachers.
CULTIVATING WELL-BEING IN MILWAUKEE SCHOOLS
This work is a collaboration with the Department of Psychology, looking at what characteristics of schools sustain students' well-being. A multi-year study, it includes surveys of area educators and case studies of schools that successful sustain students' well-being.
BRINGING EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE TO LIFE AT ACADEMIA DE LA COMUNIDAD
This study examines community-generated educational reform and its role in (re)framing educational justice for historically marginalized communities. Through a nineteen-month school ethnography of a K5 dual-language immersion school, this study interrogates the justice-oriented work of a school community actively struggling against the ‘common sense’ of urban school reform. The case of Academia de la Comunidad (ADLC), a school founded through Latino community organizing, stands as an alternative approach to educational reform and also as an example of the complications, contradictions, and barriers to enacting that vision within an integrated community. ADLC’s vision of a high-quality education is based in principles of justice that are at odds with the deficit ideology underlying mainstream urban school reform. These principles at the heart of ADLC’s vision of justice are culturally relevant school design, school integration, democratic decision-making, and academic achievement, and they shape both policy and practice at ADLC. Within the classrooms of some of ADLC’s strongest teachers, these principles also shape pedagogy, leading to a justice-oriented practice that stands in contrast to dominant ideas of social justice teaching. However, while the ADLC community operates from a position of principled pragmatism in order to enact this vision of justice, it has also seen this vision threatened by the ‘pragmatic’ convergence of interests within this integrated community. With roughly half of families self-identifying as Latin American (im)migrants and the other as English-dominant, ADLC’s work is threatened by hegemonic racial ideologies that lead to tensions in its vision of racial justice. Today, ADLC’s enacted ideology is often more reflective of a multicultural liberalism that fails to upend inequality. This is seen in the infiltration of deficit discourse, racial microagressions, color-blindness, and the commodification of diversity. A school that was founded out of community protest and a desire to enact educational equity for Latino students now finds that privileged students are benefitting at the expense of those students the school was actually designed to service. Ultimately, I argue that community organizing within the school community has the power to reshape relationships and build new networks of social and cultural capital that can refocus the school’s work for educational justice. Organizing within the school may also prove to be a tool for building relationships across difference, for preventing the further reproduction of inequality, and for challenging the normative ideologies that so often undermine work for educational justice.