Our history

TeachingWorks began as an initiative at the University of Michigan School of Education. Today, our work intertwines research, professional learning, and advocacy.

Academic beginnings

When we conceived of TeachingWorks in 2012, our initial focus was built on lessons learned in the development of the University of Michigan School of Education teacher preparation program to improve the quality of teacher preparation more broadly.

The original team—led by Dr. Deborah Loewenberg Ball and supported by the University of Michigan’s status as a premier research university—recognized that first-year teachers disproportionately worked in communities of color and high-poverty schools.

Yet as turnover rates of these teachers rose and social challenges continued to grip these communities, it was clear that these new teachers were underprepared to manage the pervasive influence of racial injustice and the inequities their students faced.

The result of underprepared teachers in communities that required still more bold, forward-thinking approaches to how and what students were taught had become a broader social justice issue and serious policy imperative.

An essential evolution 

Today, the TeachingWorks mission has evolved to support new and developing teachers learn equitable teaching practices to create classroom environments where children flourish. 

We focus on the connection between how students are treated in classrooms and the development of their emotional, social, and academic identities. We develop ways to support beginning and experienced teachers to learn what it takes to help young people thrive.

We believe that the quality of instructional materials and how teachers use them matters for teaching content. So we develop practice-based teacher education and professional learning for preparing new and developing teachers to use instructional materials with care, drawing on their strengths and intervening on their omissions and inaccuracies and strengthening opportunities to link classroom content with creating a more just society.

We prepare teachers to take advantage of their discretion to disrupt injustice and build dWe consider how to frame content to help children and young people appreciate its relevance to themselves personally—and the world beyond.

We prepare teachers to take advantage of their discretion to disrupt injusticeand build deeper engagement and understanding in classrooms.

We challenge the idea that it is only children of color who should be the focus of racial dialogue. Instead, we believe that our efforts must also focus on changing the experiences and learning of white children. Creating a more just society depends on changing how we educate everyone.


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