Professional Biography

Dr. Sarah Schneider Kavanagh is an assistant professor of teacher education in the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division. She is currently a Co-Principal Investigator of two large research projects studying innovative designs for teacher learning. Her current and recent funded projects total more than $6 million. Prior to joining Penn GSE, Dr. Kavanagh was a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University's Center to Support Excellence in Teaching and a research scientist at the University of Washington’s College of Education, where she started the Mentor Labs Project, a research and development initiative focused on transforming the practice of teacher mentoring in K-12 schools.

Dr. Kavanagh received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where she co-founded Teacher Education by Design, an open-source curricular library of practice-based tools for teacher education with a membership of teacher educators that spans over 500 school districts, 150 institutions of higher education, and 16 countries.

Among other journals, her work has appeared in the American Educational Research JournalTeachers College Record, and the Journal of Teacher Education.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Kavanagh studies the pedagogy of teacher education. In particular, her scholarship focuses on practice-based pedagogical approaches to preparing teachers to engage in inquiry-based instruction. She is currently leading two large research teams in multiyear investigations of innovative designs for teacher learning. The first is a study of teacher learning within Penn GSE’s Project-Based Learning Certificate Program. The second is a study of teaching learning within the school-based learning labs that she facilitates in the School District of Philadelphia.

These current projects build off of Dr. Kavanagh’s recent work, including an investigation of the relationship between teacher educators’ pedagogy and novice teacher take-up of instructional practices associated with facilitating discussions of texts in secondary English and history classrooms. Her work on this topic has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal (2017), the Journal of Teacher Education (2018), and Teaching and Teacher Education (in press). Along with studying English and history teachers’ practice as it relates to content instruction, Dr. Kavanagh has also investigated their practice as it relates to equity issues, particularly how teachers’ instructional practice changes when they integrate content relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBTQ) people, families, and communities. This work has appeared in Teachers College Record (2016), the International Journal of Multicultural Education (2016), and Equity & Excellence in Education (in press).


Ph.D. (Curriculum & Instruction) University of Washington, 2014

B.A. (American Studies) Wesleyan University, 2004

Areas of Expertise

Teacher education & certification

Teacher professional development

Mentoring & teacher induction

English education

History/social studies education

LGBTQ issues in education

Selected Publications

Kavanagh, S. S., Metz, M., Hauser, M., Fogo, B., Carlson, J., & Taylor, M. (in press). Practicing responsiveness: Using approximations of teaching to build teachers’ instructional judgment. Journal of Teacher Education.

Kavanagh, S. S. (in press). (En)Countering bias: Investigating the practices teachers employ to respond to students’ biases. Equity & Excellence in Education.

Grossman, P., Dean, C. P., Kavanagh, S. S., & Herrmann, Z. (in press). Preparing teachers for student-centered teaching: The core practices of project-based teaching. Phi Delta Kappan.

Reisman, A., Cipparone, P., Jay, L., Monte-Sano, C., Kavanagh, S. S., McGrew, S., & Fogo, B. (in press). Evidence of emergent practice: Teacher candidates facilitating historical discussions in their field placements. Teaching & Teacher Education. 

Von Esch, K. & Kavanagh, S. S. (2018). Preparing mainstream classroom teachers of English language learner (EL) students: Grounding practice-based designs for teacher learning in theories of expertise development. Journal of Teacher Education, 69(3), 239–251. DOI: 10.1177/0022487117717467

Reisman, A., Kavanagh, S. S., Monte-Sano, C., Fogo, B., Simmons, E., & Cipparone, P. (2018). Facilitating whole-class discussions in history: A framework for preparing teacher candidates. Journal of Teacher Education, 69(3), 278–293. DOI: 10.1177/0022487117707463

Hauser, M., & Kavanagh, S. S. (in press). Practice-based teacher education. In G. W. Noblit (Ed.), Oxford research encyclopedia of education. Oxford University Press.

Grossman, P., Kavanagh, S. S., & Dean, C. P. (2018). The turn to practice in teacher education. In P. Grossman (Ed.), Teaching core practices in teacher education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Danielson, K., Kavanagh, S. S., & Kazemi, E. (2018). Learning together. In P. Grossman (Ed.), Teaching core practices in teacher education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Kavanagh, S. S., & Rainey, E. (2017). Learning to support adolescent literacy: Teacher educator pedagogy and novice teacher take up in secondary English language arts teacher preparation. American Educational Research Journal, 54(5), 904–937. DOI: 10.3102/0002831217710423 

Kavanagh, S. S. (2017). Practicing social justice: Towards a practice-based approach to learning to teach for social justice. In R. Brandenburg, K. Glasswell, M. Jones, & J. Ryan (Eds.), Reflective theories in teacher education practice: Process, impact, and enactment. New York, NY: Springer.

Kavanagh, S. S. (2016). The promise of anonymity: Investigating the instructional practice of ELA teachers who teach LGBTQ content. Teachers College Record, 118(12), 1–36. 

Kavanagh, S. S. (2016). From contagious to resilient and beyond: A periodization of educational research on LGBTQ issues from Stonewall to today. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 18(3), 95–113. 

McDonald, M., Kazemi, E., & Kavanagh, S. S. (2013). Core practices and pedagogies of teacher education: A call for a common language and collective activity. Journal of Teacher Education, 64, 378–386.           

Kavanagh, S. S. (2012). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in K-12 education. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), The encyclopedia of diversity in education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Kavanagh, S. S. (2012). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students: Conceptual approaches in research literature. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), The encyclopedia of diversity in education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

McDonald, M., Brayko, K., & Kavanagh, S. S. (2012). Service-learning in teacher education. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), The encyclopedia of diversity in education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kavanagh, S. S. (2011). Haunting remains: Educating a new American citizenry at Indian Hill Cemetery. In C. E. Boyd, & C. Thrush (Eds.), Phantom past, Indigenous presence: Native ghosts in North American culture and history. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.