I work to improve learning experiences among multilingual youth who are learning English as a new language. To achieve this aim, I work as a program director, teacher, and writer.
Currently, I direct the ELL M.Ed. program and the undergraduate major in Second Language Studies in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. I teach classes, lead practicums, and advise M.Ed. and undergraduate students in these programs.
In my writing, three overlapping research strands help me achieve this goal. Full-text publications are posted under the “publications” section, at journal websites, at RG, or Google Scholar.
Responsive Pedagogies for Multilingual Literacy Learning
I focus on how to multilingual youth mediate learning for one another and how educators notice this mediation and responsively scaffold learning tasks for the multilingual learners in their classrooms. A related effort is helping youth to recognize their own resources and use these strategically to develop their (and their peers’) skills. In particular, I am deeply engaged in studying the strengths that resettled refugee teens, particularly those from Karenni, Karen, and Chin backgrounds, bring to their learning. Since 2013, I have been engaged in practice-research partnerships with after-school programs serving resettled refugee youth. I conduct discourse analysis on multilingual youth learning in after-school programs and K12 classrooms. My work with resettled refugees in after-school programs and my frequent work in schools helps me see the rich resources that multilingual youth bring to learning. How can we (as educators) reveal and unpack these resources – especially the organic, strategic learning youth do – and leverage their practices more in our instruction?
Teacher Learning regarding the Effective Education of Multilingual Students
Born out of my former experience as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, I examine how elementary and secondary teachers develop knowledge, skills, and dispositions to educate multilingual students. In my dissertation, I examined pre-service elementary teachers’ opportunities to learn to educate multilingual students effectively. After this qualitative case study research, I began conducting self-study and action research on my own approaches to supporting pre-service teachers to educate growing numbers of linguistically diverse learners in elementary and secondary classrooms. How can teacher educators design learning environments, collaborations, and tasks to optimize teacher preparation?
I’m also working with colleagues to understand how in-service elementary teachers learn to educate multilingual students. How do experienced teachers who are novices at educating multilingual learners develop their instruction to support culturally and linguistically diverse populations?
Factors Impacting Teachers’ Instruction with Multilingual Students (beyond classroom interactions)
As we work with teachers and their students, my colleagues and I recognize that factors beyond classroom interactions impact learning and teaching. Such factors include communication between families and teachers, school environments, and educational policies. How do teachers navigate multiple systemic issues and collaborate with others as they strive to educate equitably?