Leah Durán

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Assistant Professor, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies, University of Arizona


Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, 2015


While teaching in a bilingual classroom in east Austin, several professors at UT-Austin were conducting research at my school and invited me to participate. As a teacher, I appreciated the impact the research project had on my students and my teaching, and was inspired by the possibilities of educational research as both an intellectual pursuit and a way of influencing what kinds of teaching and learning happens in schools.

Why UT? Why Language and Literacy Studies?

UT in general and LLS in particular has a strong appreciative stance towards children and families from working-class communities of color, and that was philosophically very important to me. This stance is not found at all institutions and it has profound implications for both teaching and research.

One of the most valuable aspects of my doctoral education was how well it has prepared me to be a teacher educator. The faculty here care deeply about the work of educating teachers, and also about apprenticing doctoral students into that work. As a student, I supervised student teachers, worked as a teaching assistant to professors in several different literacy methods courses, and co-taught field-based methods classes with other doctoral students. All of this has meant that I now feel very well prepared to do my current job.

Life After UT

I teach undergraduate early childhood literacy methods courses and graduate courses in research methods and multicultural children’s literature. I’m still interested in my dissertation data, and am enjoying getting to share it in journals and at conferences. I’m starting to think about what research to do next, and I’m exploring the beautiful mountains and desert around Tucson. So far, so good.

Advice for Students

You spend a lot of time with your dissertation, so it’s worth taking your time to figure out what exactly is most meaningful and interesting to you.