Pallais has been a university instructor, an international literacy consultant, a program evaluator, an instructional designer, a school leader, a teacher, and a writer. She has taught ESL, Spanish, Nutrition Science, Applied linguistics, Research Methods and Design and Reading and Writing methods courses. Dr. Pallais is clinical faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, teaching graduate and undergraduate students and is also the coordinator of a bilingual pre-service teacher cohort.
Desirée Pallais started her career in education as an alternative teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The "Group School" was created to serve students from working-class backgrounds. Her Boston experience included teaching Spanish and English to adults, and working as a simultaneous translator for a variety of non-profit organizations. In her native Nicaragua, she founded an innovative bilingual school that was one of the first in Nicaragua to introduce computer instruction based on the ideas of Seymour Pappert, a disciple of Piaget. There, she taught children 3-15 years of age for five years. "Lo Pequeño es Bello" put students' productions and student-centered teaching at the center of its philosophy. Pallais received an award from the parent community and a scholarship to pursue a Masters at the Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, which evaluated and expanded the curriculum experience.
Upon returning from Spain, in 1998, Pallais worked as a national consultant with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education. She moved to Austin, Texas, in 1999 where she obtained a Masters in Program Evaluation from the University of Texas in 2004. She immediately became part of the Reading First team at the Vaughn Gross Center, visiting bilingual schools as part of technical assistance and professional development efforts. Her advocacy work with Spanish-speaking communities in literacy was born from that experience. Between 2014 and 2015, she obtained a post-graduate specialization in reading instruction, graduating with the highest grade from the first international cohort participating at the Universidad de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. Between 2012 and 2015, Pallais did international research and evaluation work in literacy, and implemented service activities in a variety of multilingual and indigenous communities, in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.
In 2015, she joined the Bilingual/Bicultural program to pursue a Ph.D. She defended her dissertation in December of 2019. Her dissertation addressed the linguistic and pedagogical contributions of bilingual teacher candidates as part of creating and teaching with informational texts that incorporate the background knowledge and experiences of Latinos in the US. The study investigated how a group of Spanish-speaking bilinguals immersed in a transformative bilingual preparation program discursively respond to mainstream visions about academic Spanish and about literacy teaching sedimented historically and systemically for bilingual education communities. The data supported conceptual models, pedagogical efforts, and policy initiatives regarding simultaneous bilingualism, an area in need of research attention (Escamilla, 2014). The results highlight the potential of teacher education contexts that focus on strengths, rather than on deficit paradigms.
She has been a board member of OLI, an Online Learning Initiative founded by Dr. Felix Alvarado that supports teachers' curriculum implementation in Guatemala and in Latin America. In addition, she participates in research and publication initiatives with international scholars from a variety of backgrounds who are associated with the Literacy Research Association (LRA) conference.
Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, The University of Texas at Austin, 2020
M.A. in Program Evaluation, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA, 2004
M.A. in Tecnología Educativa, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain, 1997
B.A. in History, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA, 1988
Examines the contributions of strengths-based approaches in literacy instruction with Spanish-speaking bilingual teacher candidates and in-service teachers in the U.S. and in Latin America.
Member of the board of directors, Nicaragua Lee- Nicaragua Reads(2015 - 2016)
Vice-President of OLI, Online Learning Initiative, http://www.learning-initiative.org, (2015 - 2018)
Developed the Centro Intercultural de Lectura y Escritura (CILEES) to support literacy collaboration in Latin America, http://cilees.org(2015 - 2018)
Fund-raiser and blog support, Network Support for Book Drive benefitting three schools: El Corozo,Matagalpa; San José de Ticuantepe, and San Isidro de Bolas, Nicaragua, (2011)
Founder of the school "Lo Pequeño es Bello" in Nicaragua, (1990 - 1997)
Hoffman, Bloch, Pallais-Downing & Goodma, J, C, D & K. (2018). ¡Ya Basta! con EGRA: Humanizing International Support for Literacy Development. International Literacy Association: Literacy Research Panel 2018-2019(In review).
Pallais & Umansky, D I. (2017). Nicaragua. Languages, Cultures, and Schooling for K?12 Educators Edited by: Joy Egbert, Washington State University Gisela Ernst-Slavit, Washington State University: Information Age Publishing. (View)
Pallais & Batista-Morales, D & N. (2017). Review of Judy Kalman and Brian Street's Literacy and Numeracy in Latin America.. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09518398.2017.1309589?scroll=top&needAccess=true.
Harvey & Pallais, R & D. (2017). Review of Barbian & Cornell Gonzales' Rethinking Bilingual Education: welcoming home languages in our classrooms. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13670050.2017.1404714.
Pallais, D. (2016). Review of Zhou and Bankston's The Rise of the New Second Generation. Ethnic and Racial Studies. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01419870.2017.1363898.
Pallais, D. (2016). Contribuciones de un proyecto de educación intercultural bilingüe en la Amazonía. ¿Qué rol juega el contexto en las evaluaciones internacionales?. Contributions of an intercultural bilingual project in the Amazon.. Proceedings of the XXII Graduate Colloquium of Iberian and Latin American Languages and Cultures.
Pallais, D. (2014). Teaching English Language Learners. Chapter author in book: Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment (pp. 205–222). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing. (View)
Pallais, D. (2014). Review of Regina Cortina's The Education of Indigenous Citizens in Latin America. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jlca.12294.
Pallais, D. (2013). Apoyando la Lectura con niños que se encuentran rezagados. Revista Educando, Edición 32. doi:https://desireepallais.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/articulo_rezago_2.pdf.
Pallais, D. (2013). Aportes de la Ciencia Cognitiva para la Lectura Inicial. Gaceta de Educación y Pedagogía. Manuel Valdivia. (View)
Bilingual Co-Teaching Model: Art Gallery Lessons as an Exploration of a Collaborative Interdisciplinary Pedagogical Approach for Bilingual Pre-Service Teachers
Cop-Principal Investigator designing a Research Proposal with Spanish Heritage Learners
Spanish Heritage Learners: Linguistic Patterns and Bilingual Language Acquisition in US College Students.
Design Technology and Engineering Education for English Learner Students (DTEEL), funded by the National Science Foundation
Graduate research assistant. Conducted a Funds of Knowledge Study with bilingual communities in Hutto, Texas.
2022-2023 President's Award for Global Learning, Texas Global - The University of Texas at Austin (2022 - 2024)
2021 Division K Outstanding Dissertation Honorable Mention Award, American Educational Research Association (2021)
International consulting in literacy and program evaluation, USAID, The University of Southern California, World Vision (2012 - 2015)
Instituto de Cooperación Española: to pursue Masters specialization at the University of Salamanca, Government of Spain (1997)
Silver plaque award, Parent community of "Lo Pequeño es Bello", Managua, Nicaragua (1996)
Rodríguez, H., Cárdenas-Curiel, L. & Pallais, D. Bilingual co-teaching model for art gallery lessons in a pre-service bilingual teacher preparation program: empowering bilingual teachers and learners linguistic repertoires. 8th International Confe, Hawai'i State Teachers Association, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, College of Education University of Hawai'i at West O'ahu, Honolulu, Hawai'i (2018)
Teaching Reading. Reflections from a Peruvian experience, Second Study TourProject Amazon Reads/USAID, Austin, Texas. (2017)
Callahan, R. Pallais-Downing, D. & De Paz, Mayte. Integrating Latino Immigrant Parents' Funds of Knowledge in an Engineering Education Curriculum, American Educational Research Association (AERA), Roundtable Session 12., San Antonio, Texas (2016)
Alvarado, F. & Pallais-Downing, D. Mediawiki as a tool for curriculum development and open education resource alignment, Libre Learn Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tang Center, Cambridge, MA (2016)
Pedagogical Strategies of Preservice Bilingual Teachers When Teaching Art at the Museum. Part of a Group Demonstration/Performance Session on: Bilingual Co-Teaching Model, American Educational Research Association (AERA), Division K, San Antonio, Texas. (2016)
Alternative Approaches for the Reading Difficulties of Spanish-Speaking Children, Learning Disabilities Association of America 50th Annual International Conference, San Antonio, Texas (2013)
Componentes de la instrucción en lectura. La Respuesta a la Intervención, 11th Latin American Congress on Reading, International Literacy Association, Managua, Nicaragua (2011)
|2023||Spring||ALD 328: Applied Human Learning-R|
|2023||Spring||EDC 380R: Educational Research & Design|
|2023||Spring||EDC 370E: 1-Reading-D|
|2022||Fall||EDC 339D: Reading Assessment And Devel-Y|
|2022||Fall||EDC 339D: Reading Assessment And Devel-M|
|2022||Summer||EDC f385G: 4-Second Language Acquisition|
|2022||Spring||EDC 380R: Educational Research & Design|
|2022||Spring||EDC 370E: 20-Teach Eng As Sec Lang-R|
|2021||Fall||EDC 339D: Reading Assessment And Devel-D|
|2021||Fall||ALD 325: Second Language Acquisition|
|2021||Fall||EDC 331E: Sch Org/Class Mgmt Elem Sch-R|
|2021||Summer||EDC f385G: 4-Second Lang Acquisition-Wb|
|2021||Spring||EDC 380R: Educational Research & Design|
|2021||Spring||EDC 370E: 1-Reading-R|
|2020||Fall||ALD 325: Second Language Acquisition|
|2020||Fall||EDC 339D: Reading Assessment And Devel-Y|
|2020||Summer||EDC f385G: 4-Second Lang Acquisition-Wb|
|2019||Spring||EDC 370E: 1-Reading-D|
|2018||Fall||EDC 370E: 1-Reading-R|