How can pursuing an education help you find your voice — and how can you use your voice to transform others?
San José State’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education is subverting the hierarchies embedded in higher education, primarily “systemic racism that has historically prevented full inclusion and equity for our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students, staff, and faculty,” one initiative at a time. Starting in 2018, Dean Heather Lattimer invited students, staff and faculty to participate in a year-long strategic planning process to brainstorm innovative ways to disrupt education. How could each department, from Teacher Education to Communicative Disorders and Sciences, create an environment that promoted inclusivity, diversity and anti-racist thought?
The first step? Listening. Listening to our teachers, undergraduates, graduate students and staff as well as educators working in the field, researchers and policymakers. Listening to lecturers like Marcella McCollum, ’05 MA Speech Pathology, ’22 EdD, who not only volunteered to serve on the strategic planning committee but also proposed a minor in Transformative Leadership in partnership with Rebeca Burciaga, professor of educational leadership and Chicana and Chicano Studies.
“We need to think about changing paradigms,” says McCollum. “We cannot just offer a class or textbook that tells you how to overcome the challenges that exist in our current educational systems as they are designed. We want students to question why things are the way they are. We want them to have the tools, so they can push back when something looks unjust.”
Throughout the year-long process, the strategic planning committee interviewed students, gathered research and collaborated to update the college mission. The committee created an identity statement and formed four strategic pillars — community engagement, cultural sustainability, holistic approaches and interdisciplinary collaboration — which unites the college’s work across departments. Faculty, staff and students were then invited to submit grant proposals for endeavors that aligned with those pillars.
Luz Nicacio, ’21 Child and Adolescent Development, provided key insight as the only undergraduate on the committee who helped review grant proposals, provide feedback to those submitting ideas and select those that would be awarded funding.
“I saw how influential my voice was in deciding the college’s direction,” she says. “Being on the committee showed me that my college values the opinions of its students and does care about us.”
Shoutout to Special Education faculty Saili Kulkarni, who was recently featured by the SJSU Writing Center in their Better Know a Dept series!
“My particular research interests are to understand how race and disability inform teacher beliefs and practices. I am particularly interested in how special education teachers of color enact their beliefs in classrooms for multiply marginalized youth across disability and race. I am additionally interested in how discipline and behavior are approached for young children of color with disabilities. In far too many instances, these children are being harshly disciplined or excluded from spaces with their peers for minor behavioral issues. I am interested in how we can reframe discipline and be more restorative (draw from restorative justice) in our approaches to discipline for young people.”
Congratulations to Child and Adolescent Development faculty Dina Izenstark, who was quoted in the National Geographic article “Want better talks with your kids? Take them outside.” Read the article at on.natgeo.com/3lB5X6x
“Nature restores people’s ability to pay attention to conversations and reduces their mental fatigue,” says Dina Izenstark, associate professor of child and adolescent development at San José State University and one of the authors of the 2021 study. “This can help family members communicate more effectively and get along better with one another.”
Shoutout to Teacher Education faculty Brent Duckor, who is presenting “Got formative assessment? Exploring the history, logic, and assumptions of the field from an evidence-centered design perspective” on Tuesday, September 21, from 2-4pm on Zoom as part of the Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research Center (BEAR) Seminar series. Learn more and RSVP at bearcenter.berkeley.edu/seminars.
Congratulations to Multiple Subject Credential Program Supervisor and Lecturer Asha Sudra Finkel, who has been selected as September’s honorary poet laureate for Santa Clara County! Asha has been recognized by the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators, KQED, TEDx, Content Magazine, SVPride, and GenCreates that she consistently uses her platform to voice out against injustice. She published Crawling in my Skin, a Kafkaesque exploration of the mind and mental health through the metaphor of ants, which was featured by Brown Girl Mag. Her latest book, Not Your Masi’s Generation is a memoir-like workbook that tackles mental health and healing from intergenerational trauma. Her dream is to establish her own K-12 school rooted in restorative practices, art, and social justice based standards.
Using a dis/ability critical race theory (DisCrit) and critical quantitative (QuantCrit) lens, we examine disproportionate application of exclusionary discipline on multiply marginalized youth, foregrounding systemic injustice and institutionalized racism. In doing so, we examined temporal-, student-, and school-level factors that may result in exclusion and othering (i.e., placing into special education and punishing with out-of-school suspensions) within one school district. We frame this study in DisCrit and QuantCrit frameworks to connect data-based decision making to sociocultural understandings of the ways in which schools use both special education and discipline to simultaneously provide and limit opportunities for different student groups. Results showed a complex interconnectedness between student sociodemographic labels (e.g., gender, race, and socioeconomic status) and factors associated with both special education identification and exclusionary discipline. Our findings suggest that quantitative studies lacking in-depth theoretical justification may perpetuate deficit understandings of the racialization of disability and intersections with exclusionary discipline.
In collaboration with Dr. Insoo Oh at Ewha Womans University in South Korea, Counselor Education faculty Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi facilitated a week-long international virtual exchange program from August 8 to August 12, 2021. It was a wonderful opportunity for seven Counselor Education graduate students, Victor Calvillo Chavez, Yesenia Torres, Jasmine Torres, Laura Sheldon, Jilian Gomez, Ligia Briseno, Elvia Hernandez, at San José State University to co-facilitate a small group discussion and to engage in cross-cultural conversation with 13 Korean college students at Ewha Womans University about a range of topics, including diversity in college life, learning styles and academic success, career exploration and decision-making process, friendship and romantic relationships, and self-care and mental health in COVID-19. Dr. Samuel Y. Kim (assistant professor at the University of Denver) and Julia Kim (graduate student in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education), also joined as guest speakers and shared their cross-cultural expertise and experiences.
Congratulations to Department of Educational Leadership faculty Arnold Danzig, who recently co-published School Leader Internship: Developing, Monitoring, and Evaluating Your Leadership Experience! The book is available for 20% off at routledge.com/9780367652036 with the discount code FLY21.
Whether you’re a K-12 educator, caregiver or parent, this fall promises more than the usual back-to-school excitement and anxiety. Nearly 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers and educators must, once again, evaluate how to safely interact with learners while feeling the pressure to make up for lost time.
As the spouse of a high school teacher and mother to a kindergartner and a 1-year-old, I’m all too familiar with these concerns. While I’ll feel better once my kids can access a vaccine, I am still eager to usher them both into classrooms of some kind next week. Like many of my peers, I have way more questions than answers.
This summer, she offered a webinar on considering community and trauma as part of Lurie College’s K-12 Teaching Academy. She was kind enough to answer my questions — and yes, lower my blood pressure — about preparing for school in a COVID world.
How can schools, educators and parents prepare students for returning to a classroom environment?
Lara Ervin-Kassab (LEK): Everyone has experienced some level of trauma during the pandemic, and we need to acknowledge that in others and in ourselves.
First, this is an opportunity for us to step back and ask, what is really worthwhile in education? What is the actual purpose of this whole process? What do we really want it to do?
Then, we can reprioritize and open up dialogues around how we make schools a place where everyone feels supported coming out of this traumatic experience. How can we make schools a place where everyone’s humanity is acknowledged and engaged and their interests are being heard?
How have districts addressed some of these concerns?
LEK: Several of our local districts and parent-teacher associations have started these conversations about what we want schools to look and feel like. At least one district has moved toward offering an in-house online school for parents and students who may have concerns about going back to face-to-face. That, again, is an opportunity to look at making sure our educational system is thinking about everyone’s needs and how those can best be supported.
How has COVID-19 affected how teachers design and implement curriculum?
LEK: I teach a course in classroom management for pre-K and K-12 teachers. I’ve also been researching how teachers should continue to use technology.
I think there has been resistance to changing some of the ways we teach in order to better utilize technology, and COVID either reinforced resistance to the tech or helped teachers overcome their fears. A lot of us used tools we never used before, and the ways we used those tools caused us to reflect on how we’ll continue to use them moving forward.
For instance, I feel strongly that all student voices need to be heard. In a face-to-face classroom, you have students who may never speak, who may not raise their hands or who may feel really uncomfortable engaging that way. Since teaching online, a lot of the students who usually don’t want to raise their hands or speak out loud were very engaged through the virtual chat feature.
So, going forward, how can I still provide my students with that ability to be a part of the conversation through chat once we’re back in a face-to-face environment?
Many of my teaching colleagues have provided their students with options to do videos or podcasts in lieu of more traditional assignments. This semester will be a test case for what sticks and what doesn’t, not only in K-12, but in education writ large and even in the corporate world.
As COVID protocols continue to shift and the Delta variant poses a threat this fall, how can teachers manage their own stress, mental health and well-being as well as that of their students?
LEK: I recommend teachers and parents look into the Center for Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child, which was founded by Emerita Professor of Elementary Education Nancy Markowitz. It is grounded in the idea of helping the whole person learn. It’s very integrated with social emotional learning — helping our students learn to engage socially to understand and regulate their own emotions.
This is especially important after more than a year of being isolated from other people. With every class I teach, whether in person or online, I start with a short mindfulness activity that helps reinforce how to breathe and sit in the present.
The center has a great teacher competency anchor framework that reminds teachers to do the work alongside their students. So, for teachers and parents alike, if you take a few minutes to practice mindfulness with your kids, remember to practice it yourself. These activities are very helpful when you or your kids are feeling overwhelmed.
What main message do you have about returning to school, whatever it looks like, in 2021?
LEK: Be patient. Be kind to yourself and to all the people around you.
Take this uncertainty and find ways to embrace your creativity. This year is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the discomfort, and with that, we can either push back and close down, or we can say, “This is uncomfortable. What do I need to do to make it better? How creative can I be right now? How can I think of how these possibilities could recognize our diversity?”
What’s one tip you’d give every parent and teacher?
LEK: When you’re not sure about something, ask the children and listen to their answers. Because even children as young as 2 or 3 years old have a really good sense of what they need. They may not have the vocabulary for it, and they may not be able to distinguish between what they want and what they need, but if you have a conversation with them, you can begin to understand what they need.
Shoutout to Communicative Disorders and Sciences faculty Nidhi Mahendra, who recently co-published “Advancing Justice, Equity in the Pipeline to the Professions: Reconfiguring graduate training program admissions is key to foundational change” on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Leader newsmagazine! Read the op-ed at bit.ly/3yEggvJ
The REP4 Alliance is a powerful network of regional and national education, industry and technology leaders, led by the six founding higher education partners, including the Lurie College. This alliance brings together diverse learners to develop new ideas for higher education programming using liberatory design principles.
At the summit, a total of 25 local students, including rising 11th and 12th graders, recent high school graduates, community college students and SJSU undergraduates collaborated and designed creative proposals, or “prototypes,” to address existing challenges in the higher education system.
“A prototype is a pitch that students prepare to showcase the needs and solutions that create institutional change,” said Rebeca Burciaga, professor of educational leadership and Chicana and Chicano Studies as well as the faculty executive director of SJSU’s Institute of Emancipatory Education (IEE).
“SJSU student mentors are leading what we call ‘dream teams’ to dream up these ideas. We hope to find ways to incorporate their solutions and perhaps work with campus leaders to make those immediate changes.”
San José State President Mary Papazian kicked off the weeklong event with a message for the Spartan community.
“We believe that initiatives such as emancipatory education and REP4 support the development of equitable and inclusive educational systems that nurture the creativity and brilliance of all learners so that our diverse, democratic society can truly thrive,” she said.
“Collectively, the themes of this work are well-aligned with SJSU’s interests in advancing and transforming our educational systems, which many of us believe are in urgent need of radical change.”
Shoutout to Department of Educational Leadership faculty María Ledesma, who was quoted in the recent New York Times article! The story – “Critical Race Theory: A Brief History – How a complicated and expansive academic theory developed during the 1980s has become a hot-button political issue 40 years later” – is available at nyti.ms/3iRJocl
The grant supports education research projects aimed at understanding and improving racial inequality in education. Kulkarni and her team will receive $75,000 to pursue their project, “Playing Together: Using Learning Labs to Reduce Exclusionary Disciplinary Practices for Young Children of Color with Disabilities.”
Nearly six years ago, Kulkarni and her colleagues noticed a dearth of literature on the subject of exclusionary discipline — such as expulsion and suspension — for young children of color with disabilities, so they decided to take matters into their own hands.
“The idea came from a combination of our own experiences as special ed teachers, but also the experiences that we had working with other early childhood special ed teachers in toddler classrooms and centers,” Kulkarni said.
She and her colleagues understand firsthand that early learning experiences can have long-lasting effects on student outcomes. Disabled students in minority groups have significant disadvantages, and Kulkarni wants to reframe how teachers support and educate them.
“The project is really thinking about how to reduce or exterminate these ideas of exclusionary and harsh discipline for young kids of color with disabilities,” Kulkarni explained. “There’s been a recent uptick in the news of kids of color with disabilities, particularly Black children, who are getting suspended or expelled from preschool and kindergarten classrooms for things that are considered minor.”
Her work seeks to understand why these harsh consequences for seemingly minor infractions are occurring. She plans to orchestrate a multi-disciplinary effort to work with parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders to address the issue.
This proposal was Kulkarni’s second go-round for a grant award. This time, she had the University Grant Academy’s (UGA) assistance, a San José State University resource led by the Office of Research designed to assist faculty in writing grant proposals and obtaining extramurally funded grants.
“The nice part about the UGA is that it’s really structured, and it gives you lots of resources,” said Kulkarni. “You get course release as faculty for a semester to dedicate time on developing and sending your project for funding. We spent the entire semester working on several different grant components, getting feedback throughout the process from mentors, and convening with peers to see what everyone else was working on to potentially find some elements or efforts to collaborate.”
Kulkarni attributes much of her success to her colleagues and her mentor Laurie Drabble, Associate Dean of Faculty Success and Research and UGA facilitator.
“Laurie gave me tons of guidance and feedback,” Kulkarni said. “She also encouraged me to reach out to other mentors to get additional feedback, and that really helped get our grant some of the much needed details that it was missing early on.”
“Saili worked really hard to take full advantage of the UGA for her first submission — funding on the second round is not surprising and well-deserved,” shared Drabble.
With leaders like Kulkarni spearheading research to attain racial equity in education, disabled children of color may have a greater chance of getting access to the support they need – instead of being kicked out of school where they are even more disadvantaged. She hopes her work can make a public impact that will provide children that have a lack of opportunities, get closer to their full potential, and ensure that all children have the chance to flourish.
“The UGA and SJSU Research Development are here precisely because extramural funding is very hard to get, it really is the norm that it takes two to three submissions and careful editing and revising each time before a proposal is funded,” noted Julia Gaudinski, Director of Research Development.
“I am thrilled to see that Dr. Kulkarni leveraged her work from the UGA and turned it into a successful re-submission.”
Thanks to the efforts of our Child and Adolescent Development students Julia Doan and Erin Maxwell and faculty Joy Foster, Jessica Frasier, Rayna Friendly, and Emily Slusser and thanks to the numerous contributions from Lurie College donors, our Play Yard Crowdfunding Campaign has exceeded our goal and raised a total of $10,175! We’re looking forward to transforming our Child Development Lab Preschool Play Yard into one that promotes inclusivity and enhances the quality of care and instruction offered to the Toddler Lab students.
Julia Duggs | Ethnic Studies teaching candidate | SJSU Lurie College of Education
Victoria Durán, PhD | Social Science teacher | Overfelt High School
Marcos Pizarro, PhD | Associate Dean | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @sjsulurie
Luis Poza, PhD | Assistant Professor, Teacher Education | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @luisepoza
This presentation brings together SJSU faculty and practicing Ethnic Studies teachers to deepen participants’ understandings of the purposes and core principles of Ethnic Studies teaching alongside examples from classroom practice. Webinar participants will have the opportunity to learn about the documented benefits of Ethnic Studies for students (regardless of racial and ethnic background) as well as specific culturally responsive curriculum activities that afford student agency, community engagement, and meaningful social analysis as part of students’ academic and personal development. Such activities include Youth Participatory Action Research, student counterstories and testimonios, and an in-depth look at a multi-faceted unit of instruction implemented in the 2020-21 academic year that fostered healing, home and community connections, and students’ “freedom dreaming” — collective envisioning of a more just society.
Robert Marx, PhD | Assistant Professor | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @RbrtMrx
Frank J. Peña | Outreach and Speakers Bureau Coordinator | The LGBTQ Youth Space
For some trans and genderqueer students, returning to in-person school may bring anxiety, fear, and expectations of victimization. For others, though, school may be the sole safe haven from an unsupportive home environment. This webinar, therefore, will provide the knowledge and skills needed to establish or enhance affirming and supportive classroom and extracurricular spaces, with a specific focus on practical steps to foster gender equity and inclusion. The presenters bring their experience teaching high school English, serving as a GSA advisor, providing direct community support to teachers and LGBTQ+ youth in the Bay Area, and conducting research with trans and genderqueer adolescents about their families, schools, and communities.
Wanda Watson, EdD | Associate Professor | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @wawatty
This session explores how TK-5th grade teachers launch the school year with three main interrelated goals at the forefront: Building a classroom community that humanizes students and values their intersectional racialized identities, particularly those from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian backgrounds; Learning about students’ strengths, interests, experiences, and barriers to learning; Integrating students’ funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth into Ethnic Studies and Anti-racist curricular and pedagogical practices to facilitate liberatory student learning.
On Friday, July 30, join Teacher Education faculty Brent Duckor and Counselor Education faculty Lorri Capizzi at the online CCOG Educator Summit, where we will feature Dr. Erika Zepeda, Educational Psychologist and CCREE consultant, in our breakout session “Using Trauma Informed Approaches in a Post-Pandemic Classroom for Students in Foster Care and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.” Dr. Zepeda will provide educators with “on-the-ground” tools to assess and support students transitioning back into the classroom in a post-pandemic world. Dr. Zepeda will include her experience in working with culturally diverse communities and in identifying student protective and risk factors through a trauma informed approach for all students and in particular for students in foster care and youth experiencing homelessness. Register to attend the summit by Thursday, July 15, by completing this Google form.
Lara Ervin-Kassab, EdD | Assistant Professor | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @drlarakassab
As we return to both face to face and blended classrooms, we need to explore how we are (re)building learning communities, relationships, and safety in our classrooms. This presentation will be an interactive exploration of digital and analog approaches and tools for building relationships with and between students. We will explore the need to critically analyze our own practices and schooling norms so that school becomes a place of healing, rather than perpetuating and compounding the traumas all of us have experienced over the past year and a half.
Tammie Visintainer, PhD | Assistant Professor Science/Teacher Education | SJSU Lurie College of Education | Twitter: @tavisint
The intersecting COVID-19 and racial injustice crises have re-exposed the interwoven social, racial, political, and economic dimensions of educational opportunity and the injustices laid bare are many. This workshop will empower educators across disciplines from kindergarten to college as designers and leaders, who have the opportunity to transform inequitably designed education systems by radically reimagining and building learning environments from a foundation of human dignity and respect.
This workshop focuses on the design of equitable, inclusive, and justice-centered learning environments through the creation of design principles. Design principles serve as tenets for pedagogy and practice and as guidelines for the design of future learning experiences. To support this, I will draw from my experience as a science teacher educator and learning scientist exploring race, identity, and learning in science education; a professional pathway built from Black brilliance, generous mentorship, and the wisdom of scholars of color. As such, the workshop will engage in reimagining efforts that center the transformative and sustaining practices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other scholars of color who inspire the education community to approach teaching and learning from new ethical and pedagogical imaginations.
Workshop attendees will be introduced to design principles and guided through the construction process through an example from my secondary science methods course where teacher candidate’s construct Design Principles for Teaching (Science) for Equity and Inclusion. While science is the focal example, educators from any discipline are encouraged and welcome as this practice is widely applicable. Educators will leave the workshop with an expanded understanding of how to design learning environments that affirm and sustain the identities of minoritized students in/outside of science. This workshop offers hope and possibility for learning communities during the present crises and a reimagining of what they can become moving forward.
Shoutout to Karin Jeffrey, who was recently nominated as a Lurie College Educator of Impact, which recognizes SJSU alumni who are teachers, counselors, therapists, school, or community leaders and have made a transformative difference in the lives of children, families, and communities.
“Professor Jeffery has been one of the most welcoming, helpful, & understanding professors I had thus far in the college career! She truly cares about her students academic, professional, & emotional well-being.”