Laura Taylor

Laura Taylor

Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Laura’s research and teaching aims to explore how we can build urban schools that are both humanizing and intellectually challenging spaces for students, as well as examining the political, economic, cultural, and historical reasons why schools don’t always already feel that way for students.

Her research has examined how neoliberalism and racism have shaped educational reforms like high-stakes testing, and how these reforms in turn shape everyday classroom interactions. She has also analyzed how teachers in accountability-constrained schools have made space for humanizing and critical pedagogies with their students. She is particularly interested in the role of language, both in how we learn from one another and in how we communicate our beliefs, our values, and our knowledges. Her interest in language and interaction is rooted in critical and reconstructive orientations, viewing language as a key means through which teachers and students can both reproduce and transform oppressive social institutions and systems. 

Prior to earning a doctorate, Laura was a teacher at a public elementary school in Houston, Texas, where she had the opportunity to teach students who brought to the classroom a variety of linguistic and cultural assets. At Rhodes, she teaches undergraduate and master’s courses that explore how language and literacy are developed both within and beyond the classroom, as well as courses that critically explore the functions and aims of public schooling in the United States. As a teacher educator, she enjoys the opportunity to support the ongoing learning of teachers across the career span, from teacher candidates to veteran teachers. She has provided professional development focused on authentic reading and writing instruction, language variation and multilingualism, and teacher mentoring, among other topics.

Her current research project, in collaboration with Dr. Aixa Marchand, is examining how teachers and parents are interpreting and experiencing new local and state policies that use standardized literacy assessments to make grade promotion/retention decisions for early elementary students. This work aims to make visible the role of teachers and parents as policy actors, as well as to examine how school systems can learn from their knowledge and experiences.  

Selected Publications

Taylor, L.A. (in press). Silence as political and pedagogical: Reading classroom silence through neoliberal and humanizing lenses. Linguistics and Education.

Hikida, M. & Taylor (in press). “As the test collapses in”: Teaching and learning amid high-stakes testing in two urban elementary classroom. Urban Education.

Taylor, L.A. (2021). Discursive stance as a pedagogical tool: Negotiating literate identities in writing conferencesJournal of Early Childhood Literacies, 21(2), 208-229.

Taylor, L.A. (2021). Scaffolding literacy learning through talk: Stance as a pedagogical tool. The Reading Teacher, 74(4), 375-383.

Taylor, L.A. & Hikida, M. (in press). Unpacking everyday critical pedagogy: Languaging critique and dialogue. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice. 69, 266-284.

Taylor, L.A. (2019). Negotiating discourses of curriculum and time: Tensions of humanizing and dehumanizing discourses in an urban elementary school. Equity & Excellence in Education, 52(2-3), 312-326. 

Taylor, L.A. & Casey, Z.A. (2019). White teacher educators, Black teacher candidates, and African American Language: Ideating paradoxical readings of African American Language in teacher education. In S.L. Raye, S. Masta, S.T. Cook, & J. Burdick (Eds.), Ideating pedagogy in troubled times. Information Age Publishing.

Taylor, L.A. (2019). Rights, duties, and spaces of agency amidst high-stakes testingEnglish Teaching: Practice & Critique, 18(2), 204-217.

Khan Vlach, S., Taylor, L.A., & Mosley Wetzel, M. (2019). “Exploring this whole thing of social justice” narrative as a tool for critical sociocultural development in teacher education. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 14, 62-77.

Taylor, L.A., Khan Vlach, S. & Mosley Wetzel, M. (2018). Observing, resisting, and problem-posing language and power: Possibilities for small stories in inservice teacher educationLinguistics and Education, 46, 23-32.

Land, C., Taylor, L.A., McKinnon, B., & Lavender, H. (2018). Making space for choice, voice, and critique: Critical literacy workshop in the era of Trump. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 17(1), 28-43.

Taylor, L.A. (2017). How teachers become teacher researchers: Narrative as a tool for teacher identity construction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 16-25.

Mosley Wetzel, M., Taylor, L.A., & Khan Vlach, S. (2017). Dialogue in support of learning to teach: A case study of a mentor/mentee pair in a literacy teacher education programme. Teaching Education, 28(4), 406-420.

Taylor, L.A. (2015) What is an excellent education?: The role of theory in Teach For America. In J. Brewer & K. deMarrais (Eds.) Teach For America Counter-Narratives: Alumni Speak Up and Speak Out. Peter Lang.



Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin (Curriculum & Instruction; Language and Literacy Studies)
M.Ed., University of Saint Thomas (Educational Studies)
B.S., Cornell University (Industrial and Labor Relations; Inequality Studies Concentration)