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Madhavi Tandon

Madhavi Tandon appreciates that her CU Denver doctoral department truly sees multilingual learners as assets to the program. Other schools see such students as English learners, a deficit model. Growing up in India, Tandon was the first in her family to attend post-colonial schools, and in addition to her native language, Marathi, she is fluent in Hindi, French and English. Her depth of insight into the differences between the multilingual-learner and English-learner models fuels the passion for her work in the Urban Ecologies program.

Add years of international travel and living to her upbringing, and Tandon is in the rare position of truly understanding issues faced by multilingual learners. Her research work in the Urban Ecologies program aims to bring educational justice to these students.

One of Tandon’s research projects is with Pathways2Teaching, developed by CU Denver Associate Professor Dr. Margarita Bianco. Pathways2Teaching works with Denver-area high school students of color, giving them true in-class teaching experiences and inspiring them to join the profession. Currently, approximately 88 percent of K-12 teachers nationwide are white. Getting more teachers of color into the schools is one path toward educational justice.

Another path is to work with current teachers. In research with CU Denver’s Teacher Education Research Team, Tandon studies the work of area teachers. Through observing teachers of multilingual students in their classrooms and conducting focus groups, Tandon informs the development and modification of teacher education programs.

For her dissertation, Tandon will be researching the reactions of refugee students to their education here in the United States. Most refugees are forced migrants, and they often have very different ideas about education than are expressed in our standards- and test-based schools. Her work will inform educational approaches that are more relevant to these students.

Tandon is fortunate to have found a doctoral program that understands and reflects her values. Together with her colleagues, Tandon will bring more educational justice and equity to Denver-area schools, and beyond.

CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

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