Department of Teaching and Learning
Specialty: Language, Literacy, and Culture
Because I understand narrative as a fundamental way in which we all make sense of the world, I am committed to teaching others how to construct and convey narratives that are tailored to specific purposes and sometimes unforgiving audiences–whether those narratives are memoirs, lab reports, blog posts, letters to the editor, visual literary analyses, or any of a thousand modes and genres in which we all communicate.
All of this is made more urgent because writing is a gatekeeping skill. Learning how to compose strategically for specific purposes and audiences is an equity issue. Writing skills often bar people from higher education, from salaried employment, and from promotion. Unfortunately, teachers themselves do not consistently receive preparation or support as they learn to teach writing. This is where my research comes in.
My research interests include:
Sociocultural and practice-based perspectives on in-service and pre-service teachers’ learning
Teaching teachers to teach writing (composing in both digital and non-digital spaces)
Facilitating teacher learning through collaboration
Incorporating issues of equity in writing instruction
These last several years at Peabody have enabled me to work closely with faculty deeply interested in sociocultural theories of learning, as well as those with a specific interest in teachers as learners. Some of my work has taken place in the context of secondary math instruction, but I have never been able to overcome my love of a great story–and, frankly, I’ve never understood why one would want to ;). Thus, I am using the rich research experiences in math education which Vanderbilt has afforded me, as well as my experience as a high school English teacher in an “urban” school, and (now) a teacher of preservice English teachers, to think about how teachers’ learning about writing instruction can best be supported.
Of necessity, then, I have spent ample time considering the ways in which metaphors for teaching work in both math and literacy–and the ways in which they do not. I take the stance that writing is a complex problem-solving endeavor, and thus students need to learn a host of strategies that composers use in the context of extended opportunities for the real work of writing. Students must learn strategies for composing as they compose.