As an undergraduate, Sue Feldman (PhD ‘10) fell in love with the study of learning.
That passion led her to teaching in an elementary classroom, where she’d be able to engage with student learning on a daily basis.
Soon after entering the profession, however, Feldman started observing the social factors that can make a significant impact on student learning. Seeing the negative effects of bias in classrooms and schools was an eye-opening experience.
“I was overwhelmed by how constant and prevalent bias, prejudice and institutional or structural racism was in everything we did in school,” Feldman said. “What made this situation overwhelming was how obvious it seemed to me and how invisible it seemed to be to my colleagues.”
Feldman discovered that her training as a teacher was insufficient for the impact she desired to make in the field of education. Her search for a principal education program led her to the Danforth Educational Leadership Program at the University of Washington College of Education, and today, Feldman is looking for ways to make inherent injustices visible to the primarily white educator workforce.
With the support of her advisor, Professor Michael Knapp, and her dissertation committee, professors Reed Stevens and Leslie Herrenkohl, Feldman took an interdisciplinary approach to questions of leading, policy design, learning and bias. Her work culminated in a close interactional analysis of a team of teachers’ strategic inquiry into instructional obstacles which cause students to struggle to learn in their classrooms and how they as teachers learn to change their practice in the process of doing their practice.
As an assistant professor of educational leadership at Lewis & Clark College, Feldman continues to draw from what she learned at UW when designing courses for EdD students and aspiring and acting principals, specifically “Evaluating Teaching and Leading.”
“Students come into the course thinking they know how to evaluate teaching and learning and they complete the course with transformed practices,” she said. “It continues to be driven by my interest in training teachers to see and eliminate bias in their classrooms.”
Feldman’s interest in the study of leading-learning and elimination of bias shape her research.
Right now, her projects follow both macro and micro analytic paths. At the macro level, Feldman studies equity policy designs and superintendents’ equity-focused leadership, at the micro analytic level, Feldman continues to study video records of mathematics classroom interactions to explicate the social construction of inequities in gender, race and class.
“I want to make a contribution in practice and in research. By studying both the micro and macro approaches to equity I hope to offer new insights for the equity-policy and practice connection.”
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