Professional Biography

Dr. Sarah Schneider Kavanagh is a research assistant professor of teacher education in the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division. 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 200 school districts and 75 institutions of higher education. She began her career in education as a classroom teacher, first in the Bay area and then in the Baltimore area.

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 leading a team in a multiyear investigation of practice-based approaches to supporting teachers’ engagement in project-based instruction. In addition, through her involvement in the Core Practice Consortium, she is engaged in a multiyear comparative study examining the pedagogy of practice-based methods courses that aim to prepare pre-service social studies teachers to facilitate discussions of historical texts (Journal of Teacher Education, 2017).

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 literary texts in secondary English classrooms. Her work on this topic has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal (2017). Along with studying English teachers’ practice as it relates to content instruction, Dr. Kavanagh has also investigated their practice as it relates to equity issues, particularly how English 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).



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. & 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. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.3102/0002831217710423

Von Esch, K. & Kavanagh, S.S. (2017). 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. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0022487117717467

Reisman, A., Kavanagh, S.S., Monte-Sano, C., Fogo, B., Simmons, E., Cipparone, P. (2017). Facilitating whole-class discussions in history: A framework for preparing teacher candidates. Journal of Teacher Education. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0022487117707463

Kavanagh, S.S. (2017). Practicing Social Justice: Towards a Practice-Based Approach to Learning to Teach for Social Justice. In Brandenburg, R., Glasswell, K., Jones, M., Ryan, J. (Eds.), Reflective theories in teacher education practice: Process, impact, and enactment (pp. 161-175)Singapore: 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.