My scholarship examines language practices and policies in education in order to transform systemic inequities for multilingual students and families.
I have two primary lines of research. The first examines the relationship between teacher education and multilingual student learning. Two national grants from the US Department of Education have anchored this work. The first was Project DELTA (Developing English Language and Literacy Through Teacher Achievement, 2007-2012, $1.2 million), where my colleagues and I studied the relationship between preservice teacher preparation and English learner students’ academic achievement. We found that UF teacher-graduates were effective overall in facilitating the academic achievement of their multilingual students; however, they were challenged to employ pedagogies that affirmed students’ home languages and literacy practices. Teachers’ pedagogical choices were predicated upon their beliefs about teaching multilingual students, navigating school and district education policies, and negotiating national narratives surrounding language minoritized students.
My second NPD grant, Project STELLAR (Supporting Teachers and Educators of English Language Learners Across Rural Settings, 2016-21, $2.4 million), uses a lens of “critical pedagogy of place” (Gruenewald, 2003). This work examines how place intersects with the work of educators of multilingual students and interrogates metro-centric norms in teacher education that assume place and space are neutral constructs in educational policies and practices for multilingual students. This study employs a quasi-experimental intervention design and addresses rurality, teacher ideology, and collective teacher efficacy for multilingual students. Some of the products of this work include academic articles and an EL-modified observation tool for teachers.
My second line of research examines the relationship between schools and homes of language minoritized students, underscoring the criticality of home language and literacies and their relationship to student learning. This line of research work has been supported by both the Ford Foundation and the US Department of Education. My book,Connecting School and the Multilingual Home: Theory and Practice for Rural Educators (2019, Multilingual Matters), provides a starting point for educators to examine home school practices in order to build relational trust.
Increasingly, I find that the sociohistorical context of education is essential in the framing of our work as scholars and critical public intellectuals. My 2019 book, The Coral Way Dual Language Experiment, illuminates the contributions of the first dual language bilingual education program in the United States, the social context of the early 1960s, and the subsequent bilingual education practices that evolved from the leaders and visionaries of bilingual education. Like the image of the Sankofa, whose feet are firmly rooted toward the future with its beak turned back 180 degrees, we cannot know where we are going in the future unless we know from where we came.
Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12.