Director of Teacher Education
School of Education
November 1, 2009
Educator Interested in How Teachers and Students Produce and Experience Curriculum in the Lived Moment
Virginia Panish is the Coordinator of the Single Subject Credential Program for the Department of Education. In this position, she arranges placements, teaches a fieldwork practicum, counsels students, and oversees the supervision and evaluation of student teachers. Virginia says of her new position,
“I am excited to be working with talented individuals who have chosen to pursue careers in teaching. In my experience, I have found that teachers are earnest in their desire to help students grow intellectually, and I feel lucky to be able to honor and support their efforts.”
After earning a B.A. in Communication Studies, an M.Ed., and a teaching credential in social science from UC Los Angeles, Virginia taught at Virgil Middle School, Shorecliffs Middle School, and San Clemente High School. Over the years, she interacted with a diverse group of students as a teacher of sheltered English and Advanced Placement social science courses. In 2002, she decided to return to school to get her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at UC Riverside. Virginia attributes this decision to working with twelfth graders for so long:
I became wrapped up in my students’excitement about graduating from high school and attending college-eventually, I decided that I wanted to go to college, too.
At UCR, Virginia worked as a graduate student researcher on a study of an affirmative action program designed to help underrepresented minority undergraduates become research scientists. She spent two years conducting ethnographic fieldwork at a public, comprehensive university. Her work on the research team provided her with the opportunity to work collaboratively with colleagues from different areas, such as, linguistics, special education, educational leadership, educational policy, and quantitative research methods. In this collegial context, Virginia analyzed data in relation to theories of diversity, social capital, identity formation, science education, and curriculum. While working on this project, she co-authored two conference papers: Dilemmas Posed by an Enriched Curriculum and Images of Science and the Negotiation of Self: Exploring the Narratives of Minority Undergraduate Science Students.
Virginia’s dissertation, The Undergraduate Science Classroom in Action: Negotiating Curriculum Through Practice, reflects her interest in understanding how teachers and students produce and experience curriculum in the lived moment. She uses the concept of participation structures to analyze how curricular reforms designed to increase student engagement and improve critical thinking skills come to life and consequence in the classroom. She finds that students are not simply “passive” during lectures or “active” during small-group activities, and professors do not methodologically implement a “relevant,” “inquiry-based” curriculum. Rather, all are engaged in continuous negotiations over their reciprocal prerogatives and obligations in shifting participation structures. Through an analysis of these ongoing negotiations she demonstrates how participants work to maintain a classroom “treaty of avoidance”-an implicit agreement reducing threats posed by the institutional context, and simultaneously undermining educational purposes.
Both during graduate school and after receiving her doctorate in 2008, Virginia taught graduate courses in education. At UCR, she taught courses on the sociocultural context of the public school classroom, diversity, and a capstone course on analyzing the practice of teaching. In the summer of 2009 she taught Critical Assessment of Teaching Practice in UCI’s M.A.T. Program. In all of these courses, she has drawn on both her theoretical knowledge of curriculum and instruction and her varied experiences as a secondary school teacher.
Virginia is excited to be part of the UCI Department of Education. She has found the people within the department to be supportive, kind, and passionate about their work. She is also thrilled to be working on the UCI campus. When she first moved to Irvine, she lived with her husband and two daughters on campus in the Verano Housing Complex, while her husband earned his Ph.D. She invites anyone in the department to take a walk over to Verano with her to see the now thirty foot “Christmas” trees she planted by their old apartment. After moving off campus to Woodbridge and spending years commuting to San Clemente and Riverside, she feels like she has arrived home when she drives to her office every day.