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Maria Torres-Guzman

Professional Background

Educational Background

B.A., Universidad de Puerto Rico, major field of study in Spanish language and literature with minors in History and French;
M.A., University of Michigan, major field of study in Spanish language and literature with further study in Humanities;
M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University, major field of study in Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Dissertation (1983): Participatory Democracy and Bilingual Education: The Case of San Jose, California. 

Scholarly Interests

My interests lie in the space where culture and language meet in classroom interactions as well as in broader society.  I am interested in understanding how teachers deal with the issues of language and culture within strong bilingual education models; how parents support their children both linguistically and culturally, and how the linguocultural spaces are created in curricular social organization and in the development of materials.  

Selected Publications

current projects

The current project I am working on as PI is the Pedagogy of Social Imagination in Languag4e Learning/Teaching (PSILLT) which is based on different Vygotskyan theoretical frameworks: Critical Sociocultural Theory and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory - in order to create a pedagogy that is expansive, uses thinking and imagination as tools, and builds on the strengths of diverse communities. PSILLT aims to structure a university/school network that will support the Bilingual/Bicultural Education teacher candidates (BBE TC) to become quality teachers. New York State requires that teacher candidates have experiences in schools prior to student teaching and, traditionally, these are constructed as observations in public school classrooms. This project goes beyond, by putting BBE TCs in teaching situations that are less restricted than classrooms. The TC BBE candidates will engage in Language Awareness (LA) experiences with monolingual teachers in the Partner Schools (PS). They will also teach in an Afterschool (AS) with 1st and 2nd grade bilingual students in the PS. We place BBE TCs in situations where they are likely to acquire practical understanding of planning, enactment, and evaluation of rigorous and enhanced learning, and to acquire the knowledge about and skills to adapt enhanced learning tools and lessons in differentiated context - more or less restrictive ones. This project aims to meet the linguistic proficiency needs of the BBE TCs so that they are more confident in the language they will be teaching in. We expect them to improve their oral and written pedagogical and academic language other than English. Since mainstream teachers are likely to have the bilingual emergent students who are not in bilingual programs, PSILLT aims to engage them in a LA experience in which they will learn sufficient language to open up conversations with new students and their parents. We expect the teachers to feel more confident in having conversation starters with non-English speakers and to improve their dispositions towards bilingually emergent learners as they will be reflecting on their own process of second language learning. In both the LA and AS experiences we hope to introduce new cultural tools through technology and the arts to explore expansive learning events and create new models of language learning/teaching. We anticipate greater understanding on how to educate emergent bilingual students by all involved - the Interdisciplinary Faculty Group (IFG) that will meet twice a month during the duration of the project, the participating BBE TCs, the PS Monolingual teachers involved in the LA experience and the Dual Language (DL) teachers who will be teacher coaches for the BBE TCs involved in the AS. The bilingual student is usually seen as a recipient of language teaching. In this project, we see the 150 1st and 2nd graders serviced by the PSILLT, as co-negotiators of the meanings acquired of the cultural and technological tools and models of learning and teaching that emerge from such experience. We anticipate that the AS experience, which will be organized as project base instruction, will give students greater engagement with the language of instruction, improve their language skills, and enhance and deepen their understanding of the creative and socially imaginative potential of language. The last objective, which will be emerging from the other activities, will be for the Dual Language teacher coaches to learn how to mentor teachers in their coaching roles with BBE TC and to explore how to adapt the new learning models created within PSILLT in the AS and LA experiences, for the more restrictive environment of the everyday classroom. We will document this process to understand the elements that might need to be considered for scaling up the models at a school-wide level and beyond. At the University level we aim to have interdisciplinary conversations and to engage with the data collected so as to strengthen our work with TCs and with PSs. Ultimately, we are focused on quality learning and teaching for universities and schools.

curriculum vitae