Dorothy M. Steele
Early Childhood Educator and Researcher
I am an early childhood teacher, author, and researcher. I began my work with children, teachers, and parents in 1968, when I served as director and head teacher of one of the first Head Start centers. My abiding interest is creating classrooms where all children, no matter what their backgrounds, are encouraged to learn and develop. My focus on identity-safe classroom practices describes the yearlong study we did in 84 classrooms to identify ways for teachers to focus on the social nature of learning—to realize that learning is a social process in which students’ social identities, interests, skills, and sense of belonging are promoted. These practices are based on strong, positive relationships where students learn to seek and give help easily and build trusting relationships that support their development.