Julie Heffernan

Department of Education Studies

jheffern@uoregon.edu | 541-346-6738

Courses: EDST 455/555: Education as Homophobia; EDST 612: Foundations of Teaching and Learning; EDST 627/628: Creating Supportive Learning Communities; EDST 631: English Language Arts Teaching Methods

In my courses you will:

  • Make connections to lived experiences and real-world challenges.
  • Practice foundational, transferrable skills.
  • Develop a significant project that will challenge you and make you proud.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I was a member of the Working Group on Inclusive and Intercultural Teaching.
  • I participated in the UO Summer Teaching Institute.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

Students in all of my courses work with professionals in the field and with the community at large.

One example of this form of instruction is the course EDST 455/555: Education as Homophobia. This course employs a one credit field component involving a series of field reflections and partnered field activities to develop a greater understanding of the course content.  For the past 10 years this course has offered students the opportunity to learn educational practices to support LGBTQ youth in the community, work alongside professionals in the field, and write for undergraduate and graduate level publications.

I help support inclusive environments for these students by scaffolding the field credits and partnering with local agencies to create structured learning experiences for the class.  Similarly, in EDST 627 and 628 Creating Supportive Learning Communities students are provided experiences and instruction in alternative locations and with experts from other communities and fields.  The partnering of academic expertise with community-based knowledge and individual interactions offers my student the opportunity to have a lived experience with the content. I have done research and published on the learning impacts of this form of public pedagogy on the identity development of future teachers.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

At the national level I am a founding member, advisor, and trainer for an organization on gender identity and sexual orientation curriculum for public education. In addition I serve as the regional HRC (Human Rights Campaign) Welcoming Schools program and as a representative to the Oregon Department of Education on the Equity Community Advisory Group. I am co-chair of the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition. On campus and in the community I am the co-director of the UOTeachOUT which is a research partnership to improve teaching and learning related to the experiences of LGBTQ youth with 5 regional school districts and the Oregon Department of Education.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

All of my teaching and all of my field projects are research-led and many have ongoing research components built into the courses.

Course field projects in each of my Education Studies courses produce scholarly writing, public reports, and policy papers for the state education system.  The primary research focus of my instruction is the impact of public pedagogy combined with critical pedagogy on the praxis orientation of teachers.  My instruction and curriculum are designed to bring theory and practice together for students and then to evaluate their engagement transformation.  In plain words, I provide students with an extensive understanding of what we know about public education, communities, and culture.  I then construct field experiences for them to experience, explore and analyze what they have read in the course materials. And each course culminates with a final writing project on the part of each student mapping their own learning process with the course content.

Why did you become a teacher?

I am a critical and queer theory based teacher. My teaching is all infused with a praxis of equity, access, and resistance to oppression. Regardless of whether I am teaching a course in teacher education or a course on a particular teaching method my teaching is always designed within an anti- oppressive teaching and learning theory. So when I am asked why I became a teacher my response is related to the theoretic foundations I hold in what is possible within the scope of education. I believe education is a tool of social cohesion and social reproduction. And I believe education is also a tool of intellectual liberation and a frontier for new personal and social possibility. I chose education as my career in the hopes of participating in the work of expanding access to the frontier by providing a critical analysis of the current conditions and realities. In other words, I chose to become an educator as a career where I could help nurture both the personal and the social spaces within our society. I teach with the hopes that education can be one tool that will change our social world so that more humans have access to discovery and personal fulfillment.