Faculty Profile EMPHASIS AREA: LLC, critical race theory; diversity, race and equity; identity, teaching and schooling; Latinx issues in education; secondary education; social studies education; teacher education and preparation

M. Yianella Blanco

Assistant Professor

Yianella Blanco

Dr. Yianella Blanco is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education. Her research interests focus on the teaching and learning of Latine/x histories and experiences, particularly those of Central America(ns) and how those intersect with American empire. Dr. Blanco’s research draws from community-based and participatory action research methods. Her most recent collaborative research project features work with Central American-American educators where, with the use of testimonios, pláticas and encuentros, they introduce the idea of “curriculum dreaming and building” to imagine school spaces in which Central American migrant youth feel seen, supported and loved. Dr. Blanco draws from critical, liberatory, and healing-centered practices in her work.

Prior to joining UC Davis, Dr. Blanco graduated with her Ph.D in Social Studies Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. While at TC, she worked as an instructor, advisor and student teaching coordinator. She was also a recipient of the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship, and co-led the Youth Historians of Harlem Project. She has worked as a field supervisor for pre-service teachers, development coach and later site director for the New York City Teaching Fellows program. All of her work in education continues to be inspired by her work with young people, which began when she was a special education and social studies teacher in New York City. Her experiences working with young people and as an English language learner herself is what sustains her spirit as a current teacher educator fighting for just and humanizing school spaces.


Ph.D., Social Studies Education, October 2022
Teachers College, Columbia University
Dissertation: “Testimonio as Pedagogy of Disruption: Central American teachers engagement with testimonios about immigration and the effects of American imperialism”
Dissertation Committee: Christine Baron (chair), Sandra Schmidt, Cinthia Salinas, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Carmen Martínez-Roldán.

M.Phil. Social Studies Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2020

M.S. in Urban Adolescent Special Education, Long Island University- Brooklyn, 2015

B.A. in History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2010

University Appointments

Assistant Professor of Education, 2022-Present
School of Education
University of California, Davis

Instructor and Student Teaching Coordinator, 2019- 2022
Social Studies Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University

Additional University Experience

Student Teaching Field Supervisor, 2017-2019
Social Studies Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Supervised and mentored seven student-teachers enrolled in the Teaching of Social Studies Masters program each semester
  • Observed student teachers and provided feedback both on planning and delivery of lessons
  • Conducted regular group meetings in which student teachers reflected on their practice as it related to theory and pedagogy explored in their seminar and methods classes

Graduate Assistantship, 2018-2020
Research Assistant
Social Studies Education program
Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Assisted with data collection and organization for a research project that spanned four historic sites with three iterations of data collection
  • Data collection included administering Q-sorts and participant interviews
  • Training in Nvivo and PQ Method

Arthur Zankel Fellow, 2017-2019
Youth Historians Project
Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Facilitator in project combining youth participatory action and historical research in Harlem at Frederick Douglass Academy II
  • Engaged high school students in learning about the history of their local community and conducted original historical research in their community
  • Taught and engaged in historical research practices including primary document analysis in archives and via online sources, oral history interviews, and public presentations of their work in person and via digital projects

Graduate Assistantship, 2017-2019
edTPA Coordinator
Social Studies Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Provided support for all students applying for a teaching license in states requiring edTPA portfolio
  • Facilitated workshops and work sessions related to the different tasks within portfolio
  • Kept abreast of all updates and changes related to the history/social studies edTPA portfolio
  • Maintained resource page and office hours for additional support

University Teaching Experience

Teachers College, Columbia University

A&HW 4036: The Teaching of Social Studies
A&HW 4199: Ethnic Studies & Education
A&HW 4530: Student Teaching Seminar
A&HW 5030 Diversity in the Social Studies
A&HW 5037 Advanced Methods
A&HW 5199: Modern Central American History & Migration

Long Island University, Brooklyn
TAL 875: Adolescent & Adult Basic Literacy
TAL 822: Assessments & Special Education

Professional Experience

Curriculum Development Consultant, 2017-2019
Purpose Tutors
New York, New York

  • Generated content for the students taking United States and Global History Regents exams, such as practice multiple choice questions, sample DBQ and thematic essay prompts, focused on the learning needs of students who previously failed.
  • Created Regents study tip guides to accompany study materials
  • Edited and provided feedback on existing study materials for ELA Regents exam

Training Academy Director, March 2017-August 2017
New York City Teaching Fellows
New York, New York

  • Build, lead and manage a team of teacher development coaches and lead instructors at a summer academy site for new teachers
  • Evaluate Fellow performance against the NYCTF Instructional Framework; Use expertise in Fellow evaluation to norm with staff
  • Strategically plan team meetings, including key messages and staff development opportunities

Teacher Development Coach, , March 2015-August 2015;
New York City Teaching Fellows, March 2016- August 2016
New York, New York

  • Observe new teachers in summer school setting and provide feedback
  • Review and provide feedback on lesson plans
  • Model teaching techniques in the classroom, as well as practice them during observation debriefs
  • Provide workshops for first year teachers, such as technology in the classroom, classroom management techniques and how to stay organized

Secondary Teaching Experience

The Facing History School, 2016-2017
Special Education & Humanities
New York, New York

Newtown High School, 2013-2016
Special Education & Social Studies
Elmhurst, Queens, New York

Awards, Honors and Fellowships

Provost’s Student Excellence Award, 2021
Shirley Chisholm Award
Teachers College, Columbia University

Office of Academic Diversity Research Collective Invited Scholar 2020-2021
GSAS, Columbia University

Institute of Teachers of Color, 2019-2020; 2020-2021

Minority Student Scholarship, 2016-2017; 2017-2018;
Teachers College, Columbia University, 2018-2019; 2019-2020

Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship, 2017-2018; 2018-2019
Teachers College, Columbia University


Peer-Reviewed Publications

Baron, C., Sklarwitz, S., & Blanco, M. Y. (2020). Assessment of teachers’ gains across multiple historic site-based professional development programs. Teaching and Teacher Education, 93, 103077. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2020.103077

Kautz, M. & Blanco, M.Y. (2021). Youth Historians and the Radical Possibilities of Writing History. The History Teacher. (Forthcoming)

Book Chapters

Blanco, M.Y. (accepted). La Llorona: Using film to investigate the Guatemalan civil war, reconciliation and indigenous resistance. In Monreal, T. & Tirado, J. (Eds.), Hollywood or History: An inquiry-based strategy to learn about Latinx communities and history in the classroom

Tran, V.A., Blanco, M.Y., (accepted). Belonging despite borders: An autoethnographic response to U.S. imperialism, migration and identity. In P.A. Boda (Ed.), This house will not dismantle itself: Critical futures in education.

Peer Reviewed Conference Presentations

Blanco, M.Y. (April 16-17 2020). Teaching Beyond War, Migration and Violence: Celebrating Central America’s history of power and resistance in a teacher education program [Paper Presentation]. Central American Studies Conference. University of California- Irvine. Irvine, California, United States. (Conference Canceled)

Shatara, H., Tirado, J., Colley, L., Patterson, T., Broome, J., Duncan, K., Blanco, M.Y., Robinson, H., Southall, A., Ender, T. (November 30- December 4 2020) A town hall for secondary social studies educators: Talking about social justice, methods, our students and their students [Contemporary Issues Dialogue]. College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies 100th Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., United States

Blanco, M.Y. & Baron, C. (November 20-22 2019). American Presidents and the Original Sin: Development of Teachers’ Racial Literacy at Historic Sites [Paper Presentation]. College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies 99th Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, United States.

Blanco, M.Y., Tran, V.A., Shatara, H., Liou, A., Hollman, D. (November 20-22 2019). Speaking our Truth: Graduate Students of Color Navigating White University Spaces [Contemporary Issues Dialogue]. College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies 99th Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, United States.

Blanco, M.Y., Erickson, A. (July 18, 2019). Harlem Civics: Reimagining U.S. Civics Education Through Local History. Reimagining Education Conference. New York, NY, United States.

Baron, C., Sklarwitz, S., Blanco, M.Y. (August 16-18th 2019). Assessment of Teachers’ Gains Across Multiple Historic Site-Based Professional Development Programs. European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction Annual Conference. Aachen, Germany.

Christ, R., Ender, T., Blanco, M.Y., Friedman, A., Southhall, A., Aponte-Martinez, G., Diaz, Beltrán, A., (November 28-December 2, 2018). Interrumpiendo las fronteras de epistemologías, ontologías, y lenguajes en los estudios sociales [Symposium]. College and University Faculty, Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies 98th Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Mitchem, M., Blanco, M.Y. (February 23-24 2018). The Role of the University Supervisor in the Student Teaching Triad [Paper Presentation]. International Society for the Social Studies Annual Conference. University of Central Florida. Orlando, Florida, United States.

Blanco, M.Y., Tran, V.A., (March 24, 2018). Colonialism and Imperialism: Modeling Conversations of Migration. New York Collective of Radical Educators Annual Conference. New York, New York, United States.

National Service

Manuscript Reviewing
Theory & Research in Social Education, 2017- Present

Conference Proposal Review
College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), 2019- Present

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2016- Present

College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies (CUFA, 2016- Present

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), 2016- Present

Institute for Teachers of Color (ITOC), 2020- Present

New York Collective of Radical Educators (NyCore), 2014- Present

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