Professor Kris Gutierrez is widely regarded among colleagues and students as an exemplary teacher. In research that brings together a variety of disciplines, Gutierrez’s scholarship spans diverse fields of inquiry in education and related areas, including literacy, applied linguistics, development psychology and linguistic anthropology. Her emphasis on the importance of considering social phenomena from multiple disciplines fosters understanding in students that transcends the particular curricular topics to general understanding of how learning and development are critical to research across content domains.
Since coming to the education department in 1989, Gutierrez has taught more than 30 doctoral-level classes, for which she has received uniformly high evaluations from her students. She blends a study of research findings with practical experience in research to contribute to a profound appreciation of the relationship between research and practice, bringing a masterful understanding of cross-cultural work to bear on issues of literacy learning.
Gutierrez’s scholarly work supports the definition of the classroom as a community of learners. Her classrooms are vital and dynamic places, characterized by a good deal of instructional conversation, inquiry and collaborative engagement around rigorous course work. A gifted mentor, she has an intuitive gift for making each of her students feel his or her ideas are intelligent, valid and beneficial to the learning community, without sacrificing the high demands of excellent scholarship.
Within the UCLA Department of Education, Gutierrez’s primary teaching responsibilities are with students pursuing a Ph.D. in education. Additionally, she has been centrally involved in the Teacher Education Program, which is dedicated to exposing aspiring teachers to good teaching – teaching that is substantive, engaging, thoughtful and grounded in an understanding of how people learn. According to student evaluations and letters, Gutierrez provides such a model.
Although the department has only recently approved an undergraduate minor, Gutierrez is involved in undergraduate education in a number of ways. She has sponsored eight sections of a field studies course and has supervised more than 20 undergraduate students in directed studies or independent studies, usually on topics related to language, literacy or the at-risk student.
Gutierrez is involved in the new UC Links program, a UC initiative which aims to affect instruction at a number of levels of California education. She is also involved with pre-collegiate education with research extending across four school districts: LAUSD, Culver City, Santa Monica and Lennox. “Theater as a Learning Tool” promoting drama as a way to engage students in learning, the California Literature Project and summer institutes for migrant high school students represent additional facets of her presence as a teacher and mentor.
Being a teacher means being a scholar, mentor, advocate, facilitator of learning and promoter of intellectual and personal growth. Professor Kris Gutierrez is a teacher.