New Faculty Focus: Emily Machado

During the course of the academic year, we’ll be sharing out Q&As completed by our newest faculty members in an effort to introduce them to our campus and School of Education communities.

Name: Emily Machado

Emily Machado

Title, including department and school: assistant professor of early childhood education with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Hometown: I’m originally from northern Illinois, outside of Chicago.

Educational/professional background: I earned a BS in education and social policy from Northwestern University and a MAT in teaching English for speakers of other languages from American University. I worked as an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C., before pursuing my PhD in curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Previous position (title, institution): I moved from UW to UW! I was previously assistant professor of language, literacy, and culture in the College of Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.

How did you get into your field of research? My research is focused on young children’s literacy learning in multilingual early childhood classrooms. This work is deeply connected to my experiences as a teacher of young, multilingual children in Washington, D.C. When I first started teaching, I noticed that my students were often discouraged from bringing their languages into our classroom through books, assessments, and environments that prioritized English alone. Through my research, I seek to make early literacy classrooms more equitable, inclusive, and humanizing — and to create spaces where children feel free to use all of their communicative resources in learning and expression.

What attracted you to UW-Madison? There were many reasons! I was drawn to UW–Madison because of its excellent reputation in research and teaching. I was also particularly excited about working with the new Center for Research on Early Childhood Education.

What was your first visit to campus like? My sister attended UW for undergrad, so I think my first visit to campus was to help her move into her freshman dorm room many years ago. More recently, my campus interview visit was in January, so it was both lovely and snowy! I really enjoyed connecting with my future colleagues, learning about opportunities for research and community work in Madison, and seeing the campus covered in snow.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? I hope that students in my classes will come away with the understanding that young children are powerful and capable of much more than we often think. Children’s power and agency — their ability to make things happen in their worlds — are major themes that we explore in my classes.

Is there a way your field of study can help the world endure and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the health, finances, and lifestyle of so many? Within the field of early literacy, I’m particularly interested in young children’s writing. I think that there is so much that we can learn about this moment in history by exploring the writing and art of young children during the COVID-19 pandemic. In my ongoing research with a colleague in the field of early childhood education, we’ve seen young children write and create art that showcases their care and agency in the face of this crisis. We think that adults could learn a lot from their example.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how. My work is focused on creating classroom spaces that are more equitable and justice-oriented for young children, particularly those who identify as multilingual. I see this research as connected to the Wisconsin Idea’s emphasis on improving the quality of life for residents of the state — particularly its youngest ones.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter during video chats (and eventually parties)? Often, people believe that children begin to learn to read and write in early elementary school. But young children engage with literacy from their very first weeks and months in the world!  We can see emergent literacy practices in young children’s first turns of the pages of a board book, their first words, and their — deeply meaningful — first scribbles on a page.

Hobbies/other interests: I love baking, running, and traveling (in the days before COVID!). I’m also always listening to podcasts and audiobooks during any and all spare moments!

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