Leadership learning design principles: Co-creating dialogic and critical pedagogy within cohort and community contexts

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Wendy B. Allen
Lori G. Ryan
Rebecca Vlasin


The purpose of this paper is to share our pedagogical evolution as graduate faculty in relationship with increasingly diverse cohort communities of early childhood professionals learning across the landscape of leadership roles engaged with young children, families, and other adults. The early childhood leadership program described in this paper offers a graduate certificate where annually, a cohort of 18-22 early childhood professionals from across Colorado in the United States learn together for 13 months. As faculty, we share a strong commitment to both learning about our teaching and to inviting student voices, the early childhood professionals, through dialogic processes in participatory study as we co-learn and grow our practices of learning and teaching. This paper introduces and explores four leadership learning design principles: (1) identity and agency, (2) socially constructed pedagogy, (3) contextually relevant learning experience, and (4) appreciative stance. As we go, the story will unfold around how we engaged cohort members of the 2019-2020 program year through initial survey reflections and then deepening our shared understanding of these leadership learning design principles through iterations of dialogue after the program was concluded. We end the paper with reflections on how this process of study has ultimately brought us to an awareness and eagerness to engage in relational forms of inquiry, placing student voices at the center with even more intention and depth.

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How to Cite
Allen, W. B., Ryan, L. G., & Vlasin, R. (2023). Leadership learning design principles: Co-creating dialogic and critical pedagogy within cohort and community contexts. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 11(1), A85-A107. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2023.455
Author Biographies

Wendy B. Allen, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Wendy B. Allen, Ph.D., was the Co-Director of the Early Childhood Leadership Program at Clayton Early Learning in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development until 2022. Wendy continues to explore the tensions and possibilities of centering families through her current work with Rocky Mountain PBS KIDS. Through her public media content curation, teaching, and parenting experiences, she has deepened her commitment to embracing asset-based community-engaged practices. She continuously seeks opportunities to cultivate inquiry, collaborative partnerships, and shared study of the ecologies where children and families live, learn, and generate knowledge together. e-mail: wendyallen@rmpbs.org

Lori G. Ryan, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Lori G. Ryan, Ph.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Colorado’s School of Education and Human Development. She formerly served as Co-Director of the Early Childhood Leadership Program until 2022. Lori centers her work within early childhood contexts and educational leadership environments, with a commitment to equitable and inclusive practices that promote, in partnership with early childhood communities, a strong image of children, families, and professionals as co-constructors of their own learning stories. Within each unique context, Lori’s teaching, research, and coaching are focused on building the capacity of her students, early childhood professionals, and the children with whom they work. e-mail: Lori.Ryan@ucdenver.edu

Rebecca Vlasin, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Rebecca Vlasin, Ed.D., is the Director of the Division of Early Childhood Workforce for the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. She has over 25 years of experience across complex educational systems, including serving on the design and faculty teams for the Early Childhood Leadership Program. Through her work with leaders across the state in various organizations and schools, she has content expertise in issues of preschool funding and governance, pedagogical leadership, inclusive learning contexts, community engagement, and other core areas of systems change. e-mail: rebecca.vlasin@state.co.us


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