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Jennifer Bradley

Assistant Professor

Educational Studies


  2. Phone: (610) 957-6291
Jennifer Bradley

My work is guided both by the students in front of me and the multiple worlds in which we move. In the classroom, we work together to build an environment where voices are heard, where identities are valued, and where we immerse ourselves in projects and topics that matter. As a White woman who holds many privileged identities, my current research projects explore the urgency of this moment and the intersections of identity, racial justice, and educational activism.

In the last few years, I have presented my research at several conferences, including: the American Educational Research Association; Free Minds, Free People; First Up!; The Association for the Study of Play; and the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. I am currently working towards three publications: a special issue article, an invited book chapter, and an invited book proposal. These works in progress highlight the work that young children, educators, and families are doing to understand, disrupt, and transform the systems of oppression in which we all operate.

My research is fueled by my work inside and outside of the classroom, where I advocate for change, equity, and justice. As an activist and public scholar, I work to organize communities of praxis where knowledge and theory merge with practice and action. Three of the communities most central to my work are: the Philly Children’s Movement, the Talking with Kids about Identity project, and Beyond the Stoplight.

As a co-founder and core member of the Philly Children’s Movement, I work with educators and parents to discover what we can learn, question, and interrupt in support of racial justice. PCM is a Black-led, youth-centered collective in service of the Black Lives Matter movement. While our work has been grounded within the Northwest Philadelphia community, PCM now organizes with families and educators throughout the city, across the region, and both within and outside of the U.S. border. I am grateful to the Swarthmore College students and alums who have helped to shape PCM over the last six years as summer interns, workshop facilitators, and project coordinators.

While bringing students from Swarthmore into PCM has been transformative for the organization, I have also sought to bring more of my work in the community onto campus. My experiences with both PCM and our Power & Pedagogy course are what led me to propose and design a new departmental course, Critical Perspectives. Critical Perspectives courses allow students and the faculty who teach them to slow down a bit, interrogate our processes as students of the word and the world, and build up our skills as we break down the barriers that often arise in traditional academic environments. In 2018, I taught the department’s first Critical Perspectives course, which focused on Educational Activism, just as teachers around the country and student activists on our own campus were calling for educational change.

During that same semester, students in my Teaching Diverse Young Learner course partnered with a local preschool, Swarthmore Friends Nursery School, for their fieldwork. Through this partnership, we identified a need for parents, teachers, and caregivers of young children to build knowledge and skills for talking with young children about aspects of identity. In working to meet this need, the Diverse Young Learner students and I co-created a workshop on Talking with Kids about Identity. During the workshop, students read children’s books about race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability to teachers and parents. Students also offered up tips, materials, and role-play scenarios for practice. The workshop was so well received, we turned it into a six-part series organized by a crew of educator and parent planners and presenters, with seven workshops and events spanning 2019-2021. This collaborative preK-university partnership stretches across several local school districts and has received both internal and external funding.

A viral post I wrote in 2012 serves as the basis for Beyond the Stoplight, an online community that continues today. After witnessing the shame and damage that public behavior systems can inflict upon early childhood and elementary students, I wrote a blog post called, ‘A Letter to Teachers on the Use of the Stoplight’. That post was originally published on a local parenting website and then to our local NPR affiliate website. After it “went viral”, I learned that many parents and educators sought a community space to problem-solve, talk about alternatives, and share resources. Beyond the Stoplight exists as both a website and Facebook community that works to challenge and support teachers in creating caring and equitable classrooms for children. The Beyond the Stoplight community continues to share resources, as evidenced by the recent guest post by Alyssa Hadley-Dunn that was read by 500,000 educators within the first 48 hours of the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

I am eager to connect with others at the college and beyond with similar research, educational, and activist goals. May we continue to build community and create the more just world we imagine.

Ph.D., Temple University, Urban Education
M.Ed., B.A., Loyola University, Curriculum & Instruction, Political Science

Swarthmore Courses
EDUC 014 Pedagogy and Power: Introduction to Education
EDUC 017 Diverse Young Learner
EDUC 018 Critical Perspectives: Educational Activism
EDUC 023A Special Education: Adolescents with Special Needs
EDUC 026 Special Education: Issues & Practice
EDUC 092 Curriculum & Methods Seminar
EDUC 093 Practice Teaching