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Michelle Dent
Program Director and Assistant Professor, Child Study and Early Childhood Education
School of Applied Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Child Study, Early Childhood Education
Office Location
One Riverside Drive - 402
Courses Taught
ECE 101, ECE 110, ECE 102, ECE 120, ECE 210, ECE 251 & 252, ECE 220, ECE 302, ECE 330, ECE 350, ECE 370, ECE 450, PSY 115, PSY 365
Michelle Dent is the Program Director and Assistant Professor in Goodwin University’s Early Childhood Program. In the spring 2018 she was a member of Goodwin’s 2nd cohort of professionals engaged in a series of workshops focused on enhancing teaching and learning by incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning (“UDL”) in the college classroom. During the summer 2018 Michelle rebuilt an on-line course, using UDL principles to enhance her students’ experience and ultimately improve learning outcomes. In August 2019 Michelle presented at CAST’s 5th Annual UDL Symposium on Using Learning Goals to Inform Assessment Design. She continues incorporating these principles into her courses, ensuring the best education possible for a diverse workforce dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families.
M.S.E., Fordham University
M.B.A., New York University
B.A., State University of New York at Albany
Conference Presentations
National Conference Presentation:

August, 2019. Using learning goals to inform assessment design. Presentation at the Fifth Annual CAST UDL Symposium. Cambridge, MA.

Local Conference Presentations:
February, 2021. What multilingual learners CAN do: An overview of the WIDA Can Do philosophy. Presented at the CTAEYC Virtual Conference

March, 2020. Literacy, the arts, and scientific inquiry. Presented at the Bruyette-Keefe Symposium on Math & Science at St. Joseph's University in West Hartfod, CT

April, 2016. Connecticut early learning and development standards. Presentation at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Early Childhood Investments. Hartford, CT.

March, 2012. Math - Can we do it? yes, we can! Presentation at the Bruyette – Keefe Symposium on Math & Science at Saint Joseph College. West Hartford, CT.

May, 2011. The Intentional Teacher - Using the Connecticut Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks. Presentation at the Early Childhood Consortium of Southington. Southington, CT.

May, 2010. Making math come alive through literature for preschoolers. Presentation at St. Joseph College Early Learning Center. West Hartford, CT.

March, 2010. Making math come alive through literature for kindergarten/first grade. Presentation at the Bruyette – Keefe Symposium on Math & Science at Saint Joseph College. West Hartford, CT.
Teaching Philosophy
My first teaching philosophy centered around young children. I drew inspiration from Piaget, Vygotsky, and Uri Bronfenbrenner. My classroom was a community of learners where all children were not only accepted but celebrated. They felt comfortable trying new things, knowing that mistakes were a part of the journey. Each year my plans changed based on the children’s interests and experiences. I had high expectations and cheered the children on as they moved along a continuum of development and learning, getting closer and closer to the goals I set for each of them. When I moved to higher ed I read research about how adults learn, and quickly realized that while my methods would need to change, my basic philosophy did not. I still base my plans on my students’ interests and experiences. I still have high expectations and cheer my students’ successes. I still create a community of learners where all are accepted, comfortable, and not afraid to make mistakes. I believe it is my job to deliver content in a way that is engaging to all. I am a guide, helping each student become invested in their own learning and find relevance in the subject matter as they apply it to their own experience. I want my students to feel empowered to think critically about the material, moving through Bloom’s Taxonomy as they gain knowledge and understanding and then demonstrate their learning through implementation. Finally, I believe it is important to reflect on one’s learning, which forces us to organize our new knowledge into pre-existing schemas, or to create new ones.

My classes are almost always organized with some kind of tool, perhaps a PowerPoint or Padlet, and they start with the learning outcomes for the class. I cannot expect students to be invested in their own learning if they do not know what they are supposed to learn. Content is presented in multiple ways so that all students can find a method of engaging with the information that is comfortable for them. For example, there might be readings in a text book, articles, videos, graphics, and a short lecture burst. Students are generally expected to come to class prepared so that we can engage with the material together. I find that getting students moving and interacting with each other creates a cohesive classroom community that results in deeper understanding. At the end of class I try to have time for reflection and will sometimes ask students to complete an “exit ticket” which might be open-ended or have a specific question that will help me assess their learning.

Assessment is another area where I try to be intentional, always looking at the goal of the assignment. In one class I was teaching, students were asked to read several articles about school readiness and write an essay sharing the main themes. This was not the only essay assignment, and the true goal was for students to understand and articulate a position on what children need to be able to do in order to be ready for kindergarten. The student population was mixed from those that had no experience to those with significant experience teaching preschool. I decided to give the students several options for demonstrating their knowledge. They could write an essay, create a parent newsletter on the topic, or create a presentation for families and colleagues. The students felt empowered by the opportunity to express their learning in a way that was meaningful to them and the resulting products demonstrated an impressive level of mastery.

In closing, since my job is to teach students to teach young children, I often discuss my teaching philosophy with them and how it shares some common themes with early childhood. It usually leads to an interesting and productive conversation about best practice. I also try to impart the importance of being a life-long learner. It is so important in our field to know the current research and its impact on quality in the classroom.
Giving Back
CTAEYC: Fiscal Officer
Goodwin University Faculty Senate Diversity Committee
NAEYC: Higher Ed Accreditation Peer Reviewer
Trinity College Child Care Center - Board of Directors