Currently, I am a Visiting Assistant Professor in the online Ed.D. program at the School of Education at University of Massachusetts Lowell. I am also a postdoctoral fellow in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where I completed a Ph.D. in Education. As a former public school teacher with National Board Certification and over 10 years of experience in diverse urban school districts (including Berkeley, San Francisco, and Miami-Dade), I am an improvement-focused scholar focused on developing capacity for continuous improvement in schools serving low-income communities of color. Drawing on perspectives from organizational and team development, school improvement, and social psychology, I use action research, design-based research, and qualitative methods to co-design leadership development and continuous improvement processes with university faculty and practitioners.
A main project through which I have pursued this work is a multi-year research-practice partnership (RPP) between UC Berkeley and a high-poverty Bay Area school district that predominantly serves students of color. In this RPP funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, researchers and practitioners co-design routines and artifacts at multiple levels (including central office, principals, and school teams) to shift practices towards continuous improvement and deeper learning. Within this RPP, my dissertation focused on a core challenge for improving schools serving high-poverty communities of color: How does collective agency develop amid adversity? Collective agency, or team capability to exert influence over problematic situations, is a necessary foundation for any school improvement, but research has rarely examined how this capability develops when educators face vexing challenges arising amid concentrated disadvantage, such as resource scarcities, labels of “failing,” and severe difficulties of teachers to engage students. Analyzing group interactions from over 100 hours of participant observation with multiple work teams in one school facing challenging circumstances, I found collective agency amid adversity to be a highly fragile and contingent emergence. Collective agency became enabled when work groups focused on simple tasks and affirmation, but when groups were confronted by the school's core problems in their full complexity, experiences of inefficacy and overwhelm invited defensiveness, fragmenting conflict, and helplessness that squashed collective agency.
At UC Berkeley, I conducted two years of action research to inform the development of design-based school improvement as a signature pedagogy in their Ed.D. program. I analyzed the problem solving mindsets of education leaders undertaking design-based dissertations to address problems of practice in their own organizations. I published the findings in the American Journal of Education with my doctoral advisor, Professor Rick Mintrop. I also made substantial contributions to several chapters of the book, Design-Based School Improvement: A Practical Guide for Education Leaders, published by Harvard Education Press.