TeachingWorks working papers are unpublished manuscripts that focus on the professional training of teachers. They involve analysis of data or literature and reflect “good thinking” – clear, systematic interrogation of issues critical to the field of teacher training.

These working papers are circulated to promote discussion.  As such they are freely available to a broad audience interested in the study and improvement of ideas and practices in teacher education.

We invite papers from a wide range of authors, including researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, as well as those involved in the design and provision of teacher training programs and materials. Papers may address questions as varied as the following:

  • The demands of beginning teaching
  • Approaches to training novices in specific teaching practices and competencies
  • Settings for learning to teach, including opportunities to practice teaching in real and simulated situations
  • Strategies for helping novice teachers learn to teach equitably and ambitiously
  • The content preparation necessary for responsible practice

All TeachingWorks working papers are subject to a blind review process that focuses on the relevance of the proposed work to pressing problems in teacher education, the transparency and relevance of the methods to the questions asked, as well as the quality of the writing.  All submissions should be original.

Although these are working papers, they reflect sophisticated, if emergent, ideas and research, and thus should contain well-developed arguments that can broadly appeal to stakeholders in teacher education.

To submit a paper, or for more information, please email workingpapers@umich.edu. Detailed submissions guidelines are available here.

Working Papers Repository:

Seminar Series Working Paper:
Math As An Activism

Author: José Luis Vilson

March 2017

Abstract: In this essay, Vilson considers what the role of teachers are as learners in the classroom. He explores how teachers may overthink their work without perspective on the student mind. He problematizes the idea of lesson plans as tools for learning which conflicts with the flow of mathematical thinking. He openly observes what working without a lesson plan would look like for experienced educators, and the various assumptions of power within our classrooms. He concludes that teachers must get better not just in the rituals, routines, and relationships teachers have with students, but also in thinking about the student mind, and whether our pedagogy directly addresses student thinking.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Constructing Societal Curriculum Sites and Instructional Practices that Elicit Student Thinking about Race and Education

Author: H. Richard Milner IV

November 2016

Abstract: In this essay, Milner focuses on what middle and high school teachers might teach as sites to build knowledge and discourse of race with students. He also considers how teachers might design learning opportunities for and with students that build from and on societal issues. A central goal of the essay is to equip teachers with insights that may be useful to them as they develop racially relevant and responsive curriculum and instructional practices. Because knowledge, beliefs, and discourse inform teachers’ practices, Milner draws from this empirical and theoretical literature as analytic tools to make sense of curriculum and instructional recommendations teachers might consider in their sociopolitical contexts. Perhaps more now than ever in the past, teachers must be equipped to use society as curriculum sites to help students build skillsets that will help them to more deeply understand how race influences people’s experiences inside and outside of school.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Moving Toward Coherence: The Danger of Dichotomies and Nurturing Nuance in Teacher Education

Author: Chandra L. Alston

August 2016

Abstract: This working paper is an attempt to articulate and refine the concept of nurturing nuance as a process of coherence in teacher education. Often program coherence in teacher education has been approached as a process of regimentation. This paper argues for an approach to coherence that requires teachers and teacher educators to leverage the diversity inherent in children, families, and teaching and learning in order to meet the needs of all children. Historically, schools have not been spaces that support diversity in children. This paper argues that to correct that inequity, teachers must be supported in cohering their practices around the specific children in their classrooms – they must see the need for and then practice nurturing nuance in their planning and enactment of instruction. This paper shares examples from a cross-institutional collaboration and one teacher educator’s methods course to demonstrate the concept of nurturing nuance and its benefits.

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Conceptualizing Third Spaces in University Sponsored Alternate Route Teacher Education Programs: Creating Coherence Across Disparate Partnering Organizations

Authors: Kendra Hearn and Kiel McQueen

June 2016

Abstract: This paper highlights the challenges that arise when three organizations - a university, schools, and an affiliate organization – each with different visions, practices, and personnel partner to provide teacher education and support to beginning teachers on an alternate path to the profession. Drawing on survey and interview data, as well as programmatic tools from an existing partnership between a large mid-west university’s school of education and an affiliate alternate route organization, the paper underscores the sometimes conflicting messages beginning teachers must decipher from the university teacher education program, the partnering organization, and the school in which they are working. The paper uses hybridity theory as a basis for leveraging ‘third space’ theory as a way to conceive how to create coherence. It also suggests strategies that the partners can employ to build a third space that increases beginning teachers’ understanding of performance expectations and ability to execute them.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
On Educating Culturally Sustaining Teachers

Author: Django Paris, Michigan State University

May 2016

Abstract: I have taken this working paper as an opportunity to review, deepen, and in some cases revive direct and necessary conversations about race and racism as they impact our field in a time of demographic and social change.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Transforming Justice. Transforming Teacher Education

Author: Maisha Winn, University of Wisconsin, Madison

February 2016

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to outline a Restorative Teacher Education—that is, a method to prepare teachers to create and sustain opportunities for intellectual engagement for all children while fostering an inclusive classroom ethos. Arguing that teacher preparation must address Mass Incarceration and the systemic violence against Black and Brown bodies, the author recommends a three phase implementation process for a Restorative Teacher Education, including: 1) Creating a vision; 2) Developing strategic partnerships; and 3) Finding apprenticeship opportunities.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Teacher Preparation Innovation and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Author: Leslie Fenwick, Howard University

January 2016

Abstract: This paper presents a framework for a discussion of the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that focuses on teachers and teaching for the new millennium. HBCUs are making a significant difference in solving one of the most intractable problems in K-12 education: how to recruit, retain, and develop teachers for high-need schools.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Learning from Other Fields: Program Accountability in Nursing Education

Author: Christine Pintz, The George Washington University

August 2015

Abstract: Nursing educators must prepare nursing students to be competent to practice. Since nurses are accountable to the public, the nursing profession has the responsibility to prepare entry-level nurses with the skills and ability to care for patients when they graduate. The nursing profession employs a number of strategies to ensure newly licensed nurses are prepared for practice. Some of these strategies are: the incorporation of national standards into curriculum, use of active learning strategies, use of simulation to increase clinical competence and extended nursing orientations for new graduates. This paper reviews measures developed to assure graduates from nursing education programs are accountable to the public, educational practices that ensure readiness for practice and the challenges of measuring program impact.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Teacher Preparation: Evaluation and Consequences

Author: Michael Feuer, The George Washington University

August 2015

Abstract:  It is now commonly understood by researchers and educators that the quality of teaching matters to the lives and learning opportunities of children, and that the ways teachers are prepared for their profession therefore matters greatly. Efforts to evaluate teacher preparation programs encounter many problems: the definition of desired outcomes, the possibility of unintended effects on teacher motivation and morale of applying various measures, and the potential for perpetuation of disparities in the allocation of teachers to schools serving disadvantaged students, to name a few. Still, the education research and practice communities have made substantial progress in appreciating these challenges and responding with an array of measures and metrics intended to satisfy various goals, including public accountability, program improvement, and information to prospective teacher candidates. This paper draws from a recent report of the National Academy of Education and offers a framework for the analysis of existing evaluation systems and the possible invention of new and better ones.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Supporting and Assessing First-Year Teachers

Authors: Jennifer Mulhern and Patrick Byrnett, TNTP

April 2015

Abstract: Extensive research shows that a teacher’s initial performance is a meaningful predictor of future performance, making a teacher’s first year critical to their development and putting more responsibility on teacher preparation programs to produce teachers with the skills to be effective from day one. Over the course of several years, TNTP developed a new approach to teacher preparation, grounded in helping teachers master a core set of basic, essential instructional skills. This revamped approach to the training, support, and assessment of teacher candidates has demonstrated that it is possible to meaningfully assess and differentiate first-year teacher performance and make sound certification and retention decisions based on the evidence. Data from two years of this new approach reveal that new teachers perform at different levels and grow at different rates but can improve rapidly, and that while initial performance predicts future performance, responsiveness to feedback is critical to improvement over time.

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Seminar Series Working Paper:
Urban Teacher Center’s Formative Assessments for Developing Teachers

Author: Cara Jackson, Urban Teacher Center

December 2014

Abstract: Given the importance of teacher quality and the limitations of using pre-hire characteristics to assess teaching potential, Urban Teacher Center has developed several formative assessments of its teacher candidates to ensure that they receive feedback to support continuous improvement as they develop their practice.  UTC’s formative assessment measures include coursework grades, ratings on a classroom observation rubric, and measures of professionalism and growth mindset.  In this paper, we discuss the research related to each measure, evidence UTC has gathered on these assessments, and challenges that we face in implementing formative assessments.  We end with key lessons learned in the first five years of program implementation.

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Designing Elementary Teacher Education to Prepare Well-Started Beginners

Authors: Elizabeth A. Davis and Timothy Boerst, University of Michigan

March 2014

Abstract: This paper describes a programmatic reconceptualization of teacher education to prepare novice teachers who are positioned to do the complex work of teaching from the moment they have classrooms of their own. The elementary teacher education program at one university is used as an example case to demonstrate pivotal decisions made in the redesign effort and to depict challenges faced and solutions implemented. Three pillars provide the foundation for this redesign: teaching practice, content knowledge for teaching, and professional ethical obligations. The program's efforts with regard to each of these is described. The authors explore the challenges they have faced and describe how the development of conceptual and practical supports such as foundational frameworks, social structures, and programmatic approaches to design have been central in addressing those challenges.

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