My teaching praxis is deeply inspired by the critical pedagogy tradition (Freire, 1970). For critical educators, there is a crucial distinction between banking education and democratic education. The former envisions students as passive containers in which knowledge is deposited, whereas the latter imagines learners as active agents in their own learning and in the transformation of society. I approach all of my classes with the goal to develop democratic educational spaces.
The core three courses that I teach at UMass Boston, explore different but related approaches to address the needs of a linguistically diverse student body: dual language, sheltered English, and Universal Design for Learning. Previous to UMass, I also taught courses on Comparative Education and Sociocultural Foundations of Education.
EDCG 645- Reading the Word and the World: Biliteracy in the Content Areas
In this course, participants are introduced to heteroglossic perspectives towards language, with a focus on bilingual education history/policy and different types of dual language education in the United States and abroad. They interrogate traditional definitions of literacy and explore the differences in the literacy development of monolinguals and bilinguals. Students learn about concepts such as simultaneous/sequential bilingualism, translanguaging, bridging, transfer, and metalinguistic awareness, and practice a variety of strategies to support the biliterate development of their students in different subjects.
Participants ground their learning on their own context of practice by applying (auto)ethnographic approaches to investigate how biliteracy is understood, constructed, and performed in the content areas in their school settings. Educational ethnography is the study of school and classroom cultures. Ethnographers aim to understand how the various histories, identities, and dynamics of students and teachers, with each other and the world around them, shape teaching and learning. Students write fieldnotes and analyze the content of their fieldnotes to identify themes that are salient to educators and learners in their school contexts. Based on that information, they write an ethnographic case study exploring the meaning and applications of biliteracy through the teachers’ and students’ eyes. This ability for perspective-taking and emic understanding of educational contexts is crucial to nurture assett-based linguistic instructional approaches. Integrating theory and praxis, at the end of the semester, students create a biliteracy artifact to respond to the academic needs identified in their research.
EDCG 650- Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners
RETELL is a requirement for all core content area teachers (e.g. mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies) of students classified as English Language Learners (ELLs) in the state Massachusetts. I teach this course to all prospective teachers enrolled across our four programs: Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Middle/Secondary Education and Special Education. In the course, participants explore the genesis and application of Sheltered English Instruction (SEI) in general education classrooms in Massachusetts, specifically with a focus on planning for and implementing a variety of SEI strategies for vocabulary, reading, and writing in the content areas.
Students in this course engage in qualitative interviews with teachers, students and parents of students classified as English Language Learners, use principles of Team-Based Learning to explore the applications of SEI in their respective content areas, take part in an intensive series of SEI strategy implementations in public school classrooms with bilingual learners, and culminate the semester by developing and teaching an SEI lesson that they can add to their teaching portfolio.
EDCG 630- Inclusion PreK-12: Diversity in Inclusive Settings
In this course, we integrate principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and digital storytelling with a critical-sociocultural approach to inclusion. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to approach learner variability in learning environments. UDL principles guide students’ exploration of instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments for inclusive classrooms. During the semester, students work on identifying multiple means of expression, representation, and engagement to use in their lessons. They do so by engaging in iterative lesson design, where they receive feedback from peers and the professor and are able to improve their lessons based on that feedback.
Inclusion is a philosophy of education. Beliefs about students with disabilities are inherently linked to a person’s experience in the world. For that reason, I ground the course on the narratives of teachers and learners and their own experiences and encounters with disability and difference. Students use digital literacies and tools, such as VoiceThread and iMovie to compose a story connecting theoretical and pedagogical aspects of teaching in inclusion classrooms with their own personal and professional journeys. At the end of the semester, students share their digital stories during a showcase open to the public.
“We must dare, in the full sense of the word, to speak of love without the fear of being called ridiculous, mawkish, or unscientific if not antiscientific. We must dare in order to say scientifically, and not as mere blah-blah-blah, that we study, we learn, we teach, we know with our entire body. We do all of these things with feeling, with emotion, with wishes, with fear, with doubts, with passion, and also with critical reasoning. However, we never study, learn, teach, or know with the last only. We must dare as to never dichotomize cognition and emotion.”