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Research Spotlight: Maria Coady

Q & A with Maria Coady, Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

Maria Coady (center) with teachers and teacher-educators in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine.

Maria Coady (center) with teachers and teacher-educators in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine.

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

I enjoy finding innovative solutions to complex educational problems related to second (English) language and literacy development.  My work broadly investigates how teachers and students navigate the linguistic spaces in which they participate.  So I investigate how to prepare teachers to work with English learners (ELs) in those spaces in ways that affirm and build upon their linguistic and cultural knowledge.

My research in the US looks primarily at Spanish speakers, who comprise about 80% of our English-learning student population, and I look at the biliteracy development of those students as demonstrated in their writing.  I also want to ensure that that parents and caregivers are part of the overall educational experience of their children. We understand the importance of parental participation in student success, so I look to identify culturally- and linguistically-responsive ways to facilitate parental participation.

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Maria Coady with a young student in Santiago, Dominican Republic during merienda (snack time), in our emergent literacy in Spanish classroom.

What makes your work interesting?

The people!  I am fortunate to work with incredible teachers, families, and community organizations who really make a difference in the lives of people.  Over the past few years, I have focused on a significant amount of teacher professional development in the international arena.  I have met teachers and educators from around the world who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of their bi- and multilingual students.

This international work has reminded me of the diverse landscape of World Englishes, and the rich linguistic resources of children and families around the world. Over the past three years, I have worked with teachers and educators in Ukraine, China, the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic (in Spanish for emergent Spanish literacy), and South Africa.  Some of this work is funded by the Fulbright Commission under the US State Department. This coming summer, I hope to take a group of UF students on a study abroad to the Republic of Ireland to observe bilingual schools there called Gaelscoileanna.

Maria Coady with Amber Peretz (UF COE ProTeach student) and Ava Long (UF) with a student in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Maria Coady with Amber Peretz (UF COE ProTeach student) and Ava Long (UF) with a student in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

What are you currently working on?

Locally, I have been working with rural school districts in Florida and am particularly interested in the challenges that teachers, students, and families face in rural contexts where resources are limited.  I will be looking closely at teacher education in rural contexts and building family-school partnerships for English learning families and students. Rural settings are often overlooked in the national conversation on “high-quality teacher education.”  I am in the process of writing a book on this topic and hope to have it published within the next two years.