My research revolves around how we can restructure classrooms and curricula to alter the learning trajectories of non-dominant youth who have historically been marginalized in school. One strand of my research documents the experiences of students who are from racial/ethnic, linguistic, economic, and other groups that are often unsuccessful in school (particularly in science). The second strand focuses on the preparation of teachers to create classrooms that are cultural spaces in which students' out-of-school knowledge and practices are recognized as resources for in-school teaching and learning. Recognizing the power of micro interactions in reproducing wider social discourses and building on recent research in teacher education, I employ a practice-based pedagogical approach to teacher preparation. This approach is based on the ideas that teaching is a complex practice that can be learned; that new practices are best acquired and embodied through rehearsal and practice; and that there is value in making teaching public. In my research, I draw from anthropology and sociology to build a theoretical framework that links classroom occurrences and discourse to larger social forces and structure, and my methodology often includes video analysis.
My expertise lies in preparing teachers to teach in ways that create entry points for youth from non-dominant groups. I have worked with teachers and done research in diverse contexts, for example, urban schools in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Indigenous communities in the Canadian North, and Zulu schools in South Africa. My work has been rooted in local contexts, and I work extensively with community groups. In conjunction with the Children's Defense Fund, I started and directed a summer program called the Freedom School in Baltimore. At ISU, I will be involved in the ISU 4U Promise initiative.
I was a secondary science teacher for 16 years in both urban and rural schools in a number of U.S. and international locations, before obtaining my Ph.D.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum