About Me

Julie Kallio is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is also the research director for the Personalization in Practice – Networked Improvement Community, a IES grant-funded position to bring together teachers to do participatory design work around emerging practices. Her research interests include design processes, professional community, organizational theory, social networks, and the design of physical learning spaces. Julie previously taught in outdoor education and independent schools for 9 years, leading technology integration, teaching science, and dorm parenting. She received her M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University and her B.S. in Biology and French from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Why a PhD in educational research?

The time to step back, ask questions, and think deeply is a privilege. Through this shift in mindset, from practitioner to researcher, I seek to satisfy a longtime personal desire to understand educational systems more broadly, as well as to work for a greater, common good. I believe in thinking and dreaming big but living pragmatically.

Why teaching and learning?

Learning comes from experiencing new information, skills, emotions, perspectives, connections, and relationships, but not all new experiences produce learning. Educational leaders and teachers design environments that shape learning and thus shape people, and my role as a researcher to understand how they do it and how design as a meta-representation might provide theoretical and practical insight.


Technology situates students (of all ages) in an environment of exploration, connection, creativity, and collaboration, during which learning opportunities are expanded. Additionally, the ubiquity and mobility of devices is changing how we function, learn, and work, and thus learning to navigate this rapidly changing, digital world is imperative.

A special place in my heart for middle schoolers and middle school teachers…

This is a critical age, when abstract thinking blossoms and perspectives shift; when life habits and values are formed; when capacities for empathy, creativity, and energy explode. The changes I see in students from when they enter as sixth graders to when they leave as eighth graders is a testament to the amazing growth that takes place in these three short years. I love being part of a community that guides young people through these formative years of their life. Most of all, I am deeply grateful for the life lessons that my middle schoolers (and my colleagues) taught me: to be playful with and open to the unexpected, because you’ll never believe what happened today.