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Marcy Singer-Gabella

Professor of the Practice of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning


Courses on learning and design, assessment, and teaching as a social practice.

Scholarship Focus

My work focuses on the design and development of programs that enable teachers and other professionals to lead the learning of adults and youth, particularly in schools serving primarily economically disadvantaged students and families. I teach courses on teaching, learning, and school turnaround, and work with aspiring and practicing school leaders to support professional learning. I have led and/or collaborated on multiple externally funded research and development projects focused on building the capacity of schools, teachers and leaders to

1) enact and sustain forms of teaching that engage all students in reasoning about “big ideas” and core disciplinary practices, and

2) remove social and economic barriers to school success and postsecondary education.

While at Vanderbilt, I have served on the Provost’s staff to support the development of academic partnerships between and among Vanderbilt and K12 and higher education institutions, served as Associate Chair for Teacher Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, led graduate programs in teacher education, and worked directly with schools around the country to improve student, staff, and family learning.  Some examples of this work include:

  • Design and teaching of the module on building and sustaining professional learning cultures for the Tennessee Governors’ Academy for School Leadership.
  • An NSF-funded study to examine the relationships among pre-service teachers’ developing understandings of mathematics and science learning, the enactment of these understandings as they begin teaching, and the learning opportunities for their students. Insights from this research have informed our teacher education program design, and were disseminated through a professional development MOOC co-taught with Professor Barb Stengel, “Student Thinking at the Core.”
  • Ongoing redesign of course and field experiences to more effectively center candidates’ learning in clinical practice in urban schools. These efforts also are intended both to improve teacher preparation, and to enable schools to take steps to reorganize in ways that might better serve their students.
  • Co-leadership of the ATLAS initiative, an I3 project led by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to design video case materials that support the ongoing learning of prospective and early career teachers of mathematics and science. This work represents an important step in articulating a continuum of expectations and support from teacher preparation to accomplished teaching.
  • Collaboration with school leadership and staff to advance the academic and professional learning model for GRAD Academy Memphis, a school anchored by the conviction that learners’ ideas, cultural backgrounds, and communities are central resources for rigorous learning and achievement.
  • Collaboration with seven other Tennessee universities to pilot and adopt what is now edTPA as a program requirement in teacher education, and to examine the relationship between performance on the edTPA and other measures of teaching. In this effort, we have worked closely with staff of the Tennessee State Board of Education and State Department of Education, colleagues in other states, and the leadership at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity.
  • Exploration and re-articulation of criteria for the assessment of scholarship of practice. This effort grew out of college-wide evaluation of the status of our teacher education programs, and the roles and expectations for faculty engaged in clinical aspects of preparation.