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Dana Bentley

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Dana Bentley

Dana Frantz Bentley is an assistant professor in the early childhood programs at Lesley. She is also a classroom teacher in the early childhood program at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has been an early childhood teacher for over fifteen years, working with young children from infancy to age seven in diverse, urban settings in Boston and in New York City. Dana has a particular background in rethinking creativity and artistic practice with young children; she uses this perspective in the constantly evolving curricula in her emergent, child-centered classroom. 

In her teaching and writing, Dana focuses on social justice work with young children, studying children’s emerging political literacies, as well as her own pedagogy as an anti-bias educator. Dana is particularly inspired by the work of Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE), and seeks to question and disrupt traditional assumptions about early childhood education in her research and practice.

Dana’s writing has been featured in a wide range of early childhood journals, as well in as her book Everyday Artists, from Teachers College Press. Her role as a scholar/teacher, working both as a practitioner and an academic, allows her to operate from a unique perspective. This dual role allows her to question and investigate theory in practice in the ever-evolving realities of today’s young children.


BA, Georgetown University
M.Ed., Harvard University
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University

Selected Publications


  • Bentley, D.F. (2011) Reflecting on ways to help the young artist communicate. Young Children, 66 (2): 42-47 
  • Bentley, D.F. (2011).Welcoming the mayhem, being found, and making a “big story”: Tales of a teacher research addict.  Childhood Education, 87 (4): 78-80.
  • Bentley, D.F., (Fall 2011). Banished from the classroom: An overeducated Educator? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12 (3).
  • Bentley, D.F. (December 2011). “Rights are the words for being fair”: Multicultural practice in the early childhood classroom.  Early Childhood Education Journal.
  • Bentley, D.F., (2012). Making messes and taking your time: Art making in infancy.  Childhood Education, 88 (1).
  • Bentley, D.F. (2012). Fire Makers, Barnyards, and Prickly Forests: A Preschool Stroll Around the Block.  Childhood Education, 88 (3).
  • Bentley, D.F., (2013)  Transparent curtains and teensy weensy dots: Reflecting on the project approach.   Young Children.
  • Bentley, D.F. with Reppucci, A. (2013)  “I think they all felt distressed”: Complicating Monolithic Notions of History in Early Childhood.  Childhood Education.
  • Bentley, D.F. and Recchia, S.L. (2013) “Who they are and what they have to say matters…” Parent Perspectives on how the Child-Centered Preschool Experience Shapes Children’s Navigation of Kindergarten. Early Childhood Research and Practice.
  • Bentley, D.F.  (Fall, 2015) “Your job is to take care of us.”: Teaching our way through the Boston marathon bombings.  Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.
  • Bentley, D.F. (Fall, 2015).  A critical distance: Of motherhood and pedagogy. Perspectives and Provocations.
  • Bentley, D.F., & Souto-Manning, M. (2016). Toward inclusive understandings of marriage in an early childhood classroom: Negotiating (un)readiness, community, and vulnerability through a critical reading of King and King. Early Years: An International Research Journal.
  • Bentley, D.F. (in press, 2018),  “An idea is in your body”: “Technology” and transformation in the early childhood classroom. Global Studies of Childhood.

Book Chapters

  • Bentley, D.F. and Recchia, S.L. (2013) “Who they are and what they have to say matters…” Parent Perspectives on how the Child-Centered Preschool Experience Shapes Children’s Navigation of Kindergarten. In Rethinking Readiness in Early Childhood Education: Implications for Policy and Practice, J. Iorio & W. Parnell eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bentley, D.F. and Pinedo-Burns, H.. (forthcoming 2018)  “I have a voice.  I have a story.”: The artistic practice of practitioner research. In Meaning Making in Early Childhood Research: Pedagogies and the Personal, J. Iorio & W. Parnell eds. New York: Routledge.

Books and Edited Volumes

  • Bentley, D.F. and Yelland, N., eds. (2018). Found in Translation: Connecting Reconceptualist Thinking with Early Childhood Practices.
  • Bentley, D.F. (2013).  Everyday artists: Inquiry and creativity in the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers College Press. Reconceptualist Thinking with Early Childhood Practices. New York: Routledge.
  • Bentley, D.F. and Souto-Manning, M.. (forthcoming 2018)  Young Children as Authors: Growing Language Arts Curricula through Play. New York: Teachers College Press.