Denisha Jones

Director, Art of Teaching Program

BS in Early Childhood Education and Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of the District of Columbia; PhD. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University and JD from the University of the District of Columbia. Previous to Sarah Lawrence, Denisha was at Trinity Washington University, first in the College of Arts and Sciences as Assistant Professor and Program Chair for undergraduate elementary and early childhood programs and, most recently, in the School of Education as Director of Teacher Education and Assistant Professor. Prior to her work at Trinity Washington, Denisha was a lecturer and faculty member at Howard University and Grossmont College; the Preschool Director and faculty member at MiraCosta College; an Associate Instructor/ University Supervisor/ Field Experience Supervisor in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at Indiana University Bloomington and a Kindergarten teacher at the Peabody Early Childhood Learning Center. SLC 2019–

Graduate Courses

Art of Teaching 2020-2021

Children, Families, and Identities

Graduate Seminar—Summer/Spring

Children must struggle with many issues while making their way toward adulthood. Teachers’ understandings of family culture and the interconnections between development and learning are crucial to children's success in the classroom and central to the content of this course. We will study how families affect the development of children, for no other unit of analysis more richly displays gender, social, and cultural factors and their influence on individual behavior and development. Today, children spend more time than ever before in early childhood programs and grade schools. We will investigate how families and schools provide a framework for the exploration of the social world and socialize children according to cultural norms. Healthy development and learning are intertwined in the context of the child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. In order for teachers to be equipped to help their students in the areas of social and emotional health, trauma, and toxic stress, we will review research on adverse childhood experiences, and how schools and communities can serve as protective factors. We will also examine racial identity development in young children. As teachers strive to enact anti-racist curriculums and pedagogies, they need a foundational understanding of racial identity development with a focus on the early years. Through readings and case-study analyses, students will explore the importance of teachers’ understanding of the complexities of the lives of children and families in order to better prepare for the challenges of the classroom.


Children With Special Needs

Graduate Seminar—Fall

All children in early childhood settings and the elementary grades have strengths and weaknesses. All children have areas in which they excel and areas in which they feel insecure. All children have times when academic learning is difficult for them while, at the same time, all children have the capacity to learn. Understanding the individual differences of an entire class of students is a challenge; and in order to meet the needs of our students, we must observe their differences and individual patterns of behavior. This course will explore the concepts of inclusion; special-needs diagnostic categories; designing curriculum that is responsive to children; and differentiating curriculum to support skill development, keeping in mind that each child is unique. The goals of the course are to integrate our perspectives of children’s individual needs while planning classroom inquiry; to explore ways of working with parents of children who require special support; to understand how to access support and feedback for children that require additional assistance; and to consider implications for teaching in an inclusive classroom and school.


Foundations of Education

Graduate Seminar—Summer

This course will explore multiple lenses through which we view the concept of education, including theoretical, historical, political, sociological, and cultural perspectives. We will begin by considering the historical roots of contemporary education, with particular emphasis on the history of public education in the United States. Drawing on a variety of readings, films, and in-class projects, we will examine constructs of diversity including race, class, culture, language, ability, gender, and sexual identity and discover ways to create an inclusive learning environment for students and their families. The work of John Dewey and other progressive educators will provide a basis for looking at democratic ideals and “pendulum swings” in American education, including current debates concerning standards, testing practices, and political agendas. Throughout the course, students will be asked to reflect on their own school experiences and fieldwork observations in order to make connections between historical and current educational practices.


Theories of Development

Graduate Seminar—Summer

The field of developmental psychology has been shaped by several different, and often conflicting, visions of childhood experience. These visions have, in turn, influenced early childhood and childhood education practice. In this course, we will study the classical theories—behaviorist, psychoanalytic, and cognitive-developmental—as they were originally formulated and in light of subsequent critiques and revisions. We will focus on the kinds of questions that each theory asks and the “image of the child” that each puts forth. Recent challenges within the field have highlighted specific conceptual problems, which we will address. Are patterns of development universal or culture- specific? Can childhood experiences be thought of as proceeding in a series of stages? How do we construct methods for studying children that will recognize and validate the significance of differing social and cultural experiences? How can we forge a multicultural view of development such that development is understood in terms of how it is experienced within a given cultural context? The goal of the course is to prepare students to integrate theory and practice into their work with children. Required papers will reflect this integration.


Previous Courses

Mathematics and Technology I and II

Graduate Seminar—Year

This course will place strong emphasis on students’ own understanding of mathematics as directly related to the mathematics that they will be teaching in early-childhood and elementary-school classrooms. The course will focus on core concepts of mathematics teaching and learning: the science of patterns and number relationships. Patterns and functions will serve as the lenses through which students will examine connections to and applications of the topics in the early childhood and childhood school curricula. Students will develop an understanding of the content, concepts, computation, and teaching and learning strategies of mathematics in schools. Emphasis will be placed on constructivist teaching and learning; inquiry-based learning; problem solving; and mathematical reasoning, connections, and communication. Students will be exposed to techniques in differentiating instruction that addresses learning differences and the special needs of English-language learners, as well as ways to identify tasks that challenge and augment mathematical understandings. The use of technology as an integral support for the understanding and application of mathematics will also be a focus of the course. Each class session will provide students with opportunities to engage in authentic mathematical activities, followed by sharing these experiences and ways to implement similar, engaging mathematical tasks in classrooms. As part of their conference work, students will create a concept teaching game and a presentation of the solutions to complex problems.