When I began teaching, I recognized that so many students were asked to keep their languages—often a big part of their identities—outside of school walls.
From her first experiences teaching English as a New Language in Washington, D.C., Emily Machado recognized the power of teachers to advance equity in their classrooms. She also saw how many students weren't able to bring their languages and identities into school.
Machado, who joins the University of Washington College of Education this fall as an assistant professor in teaching, learning and curriculum, is working to change that by exploring how teachers can support children's diverse literacy practices within elementary classrooms.
Machado recently completed her PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has published her research in journals including Language Arts and Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice and the edited book "Addressing Diversity in Literacy Instruction." In the Q&A below, Machado discusses her experiences as a teacher, her research agenda, what courses she’ll be teaching this year and more. Follow Machado on Twitter.
What drew you to education?
I believe that classrooms have the potential to be sites for social change. I began my teaching career in the Washington, D.C. Public Schools as an elementary English as a New Language teacher. Later, I became a general education teacher in another elementary school with an administration that was strongly committed to facilitating conversations about race and equity in education among faculty, staff and students.
Across both of these experiences, I recognized the power and potential of my role as a teacher to support equity in my classroom. I also recognized the ways in which I was complicit in pervasive systems of inequity that characterize schools in the United States. I went to graduate school because I wanted to learn more about and help develop equity-oriented pedagogies in the elementary literacy classroom. This commitment still guides my work today.
Please describe your research agenda. What makes this work meaningful to you?
I study the teaching and learning of writing in linguistically and culturally diverse elementary school classrooms. Specifically, my current research examines how young children draw on the breadth and depth of their communicative resources—including languages, dialects, literacies, cultural practices, etc.—in and through their writing.
This work is especially meaningful to me because, as the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, speaking and writing in Spanish have always helped me to connect with my family and my cultural heritage. When I began teaching, I recognized that so many students were asked to keep their languages—often a big part of their identities—outside of school walls. Through my research, I hope to make space for languages other than English in the elementary literacy classroom.
What attracted you to UW College of Education?
There are so many reasons! First, I am humbled to be a member of a university community with such a strong commitment to supporting educational equity. I was also attracted to UW because of its strong focus on high-quality and cutting-edge teacher education.
Most significantly, I was drawn to UW because of the people. When I came to campus for the first time, I was blown away by the overwhelming kindness and collaborative spirit of the students and faculty. I had always known that UW was an excellent institution, but I learned that the people make it even more extraordinary. I truly can't imagine a better place to be!
What's a course you're particularly excited to teach?
This winter, I'll teach “Teaching and Learning in Literacy” (ED TEP 533). This spring, I'll teach “Teaching Reading and Writing in Multilingual Settings” (ED C&I 568). These courses are so well-aligned to my teaching experience and my ongoing research. It's really my dream lineup of courses for a school year!
Tell us about an education-related book or movie that has influenced you.
It's so hard to choose just one! When I was teaching in Washington, D.C., I read Peter Johnston's “Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning.” This book helped me to more deeply recognize the power of language to shape identities and create realities.
What's something that students and colleagues should know about you?
I would love for my colleagues and students to know how excited I am to be here! I feel so honored to be a part of this community and can’t wait to work together.
Besides your work, what's something that you're passionate about?
I love to travel and am looking forward to exploring the West Coast. I am also passionate about children's literature, especially picture books. Let me know if you need a recommendation!
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications