Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading

A young student learning in a classroom

Committed to Educational Freedom and Self-Determination

The Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading is guided by our School’s mission-vision and organized by our faculty’s purposes, principles, commitments, and praxes.

Our Purposes

Our shared purposes are to:

  • Support the self-determination of peoples to practice knowledge traditions
  • Join in global efforts of collective educational liberation
  • Contribute to societal transformation toward freedom through our full range of educational endeavors
  • Cultivate rigorous intellectual praxis in educators
Our Principles

Our shared principles are:

  • Reciprocal and just relationality 
  • Common cause and collective responsibility
  • Freedom through practice of knowledge traditions
  • Refusal of systems and structures of domination
Our Commitments

We are committed to:

  • Bold, collective study toward liberation
  • Struggling together in the internal tensions of freedom work
  • Learning, recovering, and recentering knowledge traditions historically excluded from our field
  • Collectively imagining and practicing free alternatives and futures Collaboratively cultivating freedom and justice in praxis
Our Praxes

Our shared praxes are:

  • Lifting up, studying, growing, and working across multiple liberatory knowledge and epistemic traditions
  • Building community through dialecticism, dialogism, and difference
  • Centering freedom stories and storytelling
  • Prioritizing the obligations of purposes, principles, and commitments
  • Embracing action and activism

Photo graphic about the school's new undergraduate teacher education program

Signature TLL Initiatives

Freedom Seminar Courses

The TLL Department has developed 1-credit freedom seminar courses that are open to all students at the University of Pittsburgh (graduate and undergraduate).

Learn more here

Annual Educational Leadership Speaker Series

The TLL Department offers an educational leadership series that is open to all members of the general public.

The series engages participants in thinking through some of the ongoing, complex conditions that school, district, and organization leaders encounter and to situate those in the current global uprisings and movements for racial justice.

Upcoming Events

Dia da Consciênca Negra (Black Consciousness Day in Brazil) 
Thursday, November 18, 2021
4 -5:30 p.m.
Organized by George Barganier

Born out of the Black liberation struggle, November 20th, Dia Da Nacional Consciência Negra (National Black Consciousness Day) has forged a space for collective reflection on the struggle against racism and exploitation suffered by the Black population of Brazil and throughout the diaspora. Join the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading at the University of Pittsburgh as we welcome several Black Brazilian activists to discuss contemporary aspects of race and resistance in Brazil.

Register button

Past Events

Past speaker series topics have included:

  • Black Radicals Make For Bad Citizens: Undoing the myth of the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Featuring Damien Sojoyner)
  • Mothers and U.S. Conquest-Colonial School Subjects: Boricua Womxn Resisting (Featuring Melissa Colón)
  • Anti-subordination Leadership (Featuring Jeremiah Chin)
  • Autodeterminason di linguajen na komunidadis negra: Mo ki skolas ta dikoloniza ses komunikason? Language self-determination in Black communities: How do schools decolonize their communication? (Featuring Silas Otniel Rodrigues Pinto)
  • Report out: Lessons from Kevin Kumashiro’s “Leading for Social Justice” workshop (Featuring Michelle Sobolak and Sheila Conway)
For more information, contact Dr. Sabina Vaught at
Annual Freedom and Justice Gathering

The TLL Department offers students across our programs and community partners the opportunity to learn about justice and freedom in curriculum work. Held in the spring term, the annual event features keynote speakers, student presentations, and roundtable discussions.

Faculty members Kari Kokka and Emily Rainey created and organized the inaugural event.

Read a news article about the 2021 event (formerly named the Social Justice Curriculum Fair).

Faculty Colloquium Series

Each academic year, the TLL Department hosts a faculty colloquium series in which our faculty give a presentation on urgent topics in teaching, learning, and leading. The series is open to all students, faculty, and staff within our department. 

“Reimagining Family - School Engagement: Moving from Involvement to Trust Relationships” 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
10 - 11 a.m.
Location: Zoom
Registration: Not required

Facilitator: Dr. Tom Ralston, Visiting Scholar

Description: Traditionally, K-12 schools have had a very narrow view of their relationship with parents and families.  This relationship can best be described as involvement and includes ensuring that children attend school and have their schoolwork complete.  Attending open house, parent-teacher conferences, and volunteering at book fairs and other events met the expectation of parent involvement. 

The recent pandemic had a significant impact on the relationship between schools and their communities.  The disruption to the normal format of school accentuated inequity and eroded trust between schools and those that they serve.  Political polarization has further stoked fear and mistrust between parents and schools.

A recent international study conducted by the Brookings Universal Center for Education reveals the positive impact on learning that can be attained by school communities willing to reimagine parent and family engagement with school.  This workshop will review the results of the study as well as a playbook developed by the Brookings CUE and participants in the study to assist school communities that are prepared to take the steps to building trusting relationships with parents and families. 

“Negotiating U.S. Citizenship in the Rural Midwest: Experiences of Puerto Rican Migrant Youth”

Thursday, March 2, 2023
10 - 11 a.m.

Location: Zoom
Registration: Not required

Facilitator: Dr. Lisa Ortiz, Assistant Professor

Description: Puerto Rican scholars have long demonstrated ties and tensions between Puerto Rican and other Latinx communities. At times, such ties and tensions are connected to having and not having U.S. citizenship. In this talk, I examine how Puerto Rican migrant youth make (dis)connections with Latinx friends across (un)documented lines in ways that exhibit beginning awareness of structural inequities. The meaning-making in which Puerto Rican youth engage relates to broader Latinx sensibilities given the rural demographic growth and change occurring in central Illinois. 

“Improving Equitable Access to Literacy: The Crisis for Braille Readers”

Wednesday, April 12, 2023
10 - 11 a.m.

Location: Zoom
Registration: Not required

Facilitator: Tessa McCarthy, Assistant Professor

Description: This presentation will explore the reasons why adults and children who read braille typically read at or below half the reading rate of typically sighted peers who read print. Implications of the disparities will be discussed as well as strategies for increasing the reading speeds for individuals who read braille.

Study Groups

Place, Race, and Self-Determination Study Group (Spring 2021)

Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading
Description: Our Study Group will take a deep dive into a few seminal texts that span The Black Radical Tradition, abolitionism, and Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. Dr. Sabina Vaught, Chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading, will lead the Study Group. Engagement will be framed around the following large question: How does this constellation of texts organized by place, race, and self-determination shape a meaningful theoretical dialogue for thinking about radical educational work? In the context of this constellation, we will consider the role and function of insurgency, anti-colonialism, and sovereignty through the study of structures and systems of sovereignty, labor, colonization, plantation, and carcerality as well as through epistemological, ideological, and ontological movements.

Indigenous Knowledges Study Group (Spring 2021)

Facilitators: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading, and Hawaeyëde:ih (David George-Shongo), Executive Director of Native American Multi-Enterprises
Description: The Study Group will explore introductory questions around Indigenous knowledges, Indigenous education, and the relation to the state education project. Rigorous and deep-rooted, Indigenous intellectual traditions are both a formalized and localized practice. The methodologies, processes, and means to share this information are often embedded in everyday life. Life lessons are functional and required, taught from birth to death, and holistic. By understanding Indigenous knowledges, the Study Group will allow us to create a better and more just world for everyone.

Abolition and Education Study Group (Fall 2020)

Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading
Description: Members of the Study Group will consider abolition’s location in the Black Radical Tradition, be introduced to some of its frameworks and principles, and begin to become familiar with some of its commitments in the context of U.S. social and political movements, including education. Each meeting will be an engaging, meaningful discussion organized around powerful, dynamic readings. Participants will receive a syllabus and be provided with readings and other resources required for discussion.

Faculty Pedagogy Workshops


TLL Learning Table: Common Problems of Practice Related to Digital Media and Learning Technology in Education Settings
Monday, November 15, 2021
Noon - 1 p.m.

This virtual session will explore common problems of practice related to integrating digital media and technology into classroom teaching, professional learning, and research. You are encouraged to bring a problem of practice, an artifact, or question that you want to share and discuss. The agenda is as follows: 10 minutes for general framing and introductions, 40 minutes for sharing and reflecting together on common problems of practice, and 10 minutes for wrapping up and next steps.  

Register button


(Mis)fit: Reimagining and Restructuring Evaluation: A panel in dialogue with Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's article, "Misfits: A Feminist Materialist Disability Concept"

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading 
Panelists: T. Elon Dancy, II (Associate Dean for Equity and Justice) and Kirsten Edwards (Linda Clarke Anderson Presidential Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and a Faculty Fellow in the Office of the VP for Research & Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma)
Description: This panel is for all School of Education faculty members serving in evaluative roles over the course of the spring semester, related to any of the following: tenure and promotion; admissions; annual evaluations; faculty searches; reappointments.

What are Anti-racist Approaches to Syllabus Development?

Date: November 19, 2020 | Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading 
Description: Anti-racism has rich and varied geographic, sociologic, and historic dimensions. How might we draw on those to consider ways to revise our syllabi? Please bring a syllabus to workshop! The session is for faculty at the Pitt School of Education.

Pronoun Fluency: Creating More Equitable Classrooms Through Pronoun Usage

Date: November 4, 2020
Facilitator: Nino Testa, Associate Director of the Department of Women & Gender Studies at Texas Christian University (TCU), and Lindsay Throne Knight, (she/they), Director of the Intentional Dialogue Program, Assistant Director of the Leadership Center, and affiliate of the Women and Gender Studies Department and Gender Resource Office at Texas Christian University (TCU)
Description: This workshop is designed to give faculty and staff an opportunity to develop familiarity with pronoun usage and strategies of address. Do you have questions about non-binary pronouns? Do you keep calling someone in your life by the wrong pronouns? Are you unsure how to talk to new people without gendering them? This workshop includes practical, hands-on opportunities to improve your knowledge or usage of pronouns, especially if you struggle to get other people’s pronouns right. We will also share best practices for inclusion of this information into syllabi and classroom settings. All genders and identities are welcome.

Building a Living Syllabus: A Faculty Syllabus Workshop

Date: November 10, 2020 | 1 - 2:30 p.m.
Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading 
Description: “A revolution by education requires a revolution in education,” writes Russell Rickford in We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination. In this online session, we ask how our syllabi in the Pitt School of Education can be sites for reimagining and restructuring a small part of the vast educational project. Join to learn about and discuss one model for engaging a living syllabus--a syllabus that unfolds through collective processes in the context of one course. Feel free to bring a syllabus in any stage of (re)development.

Faculty Writing Workshops

Writing Retreat for Assistant Faculty

Date: September 17, 2021
Facilitator: Dr. Sabina Vaught, professor and chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading (TLL)
Description: The event is an opportunity to welcome new colleagues, lay out priorities for the year, and participate in small group work. 

Preparing for Your Book Project

Date: Friday, March 12, 2021
Presenter:  Kirsten Hextrum, PhD
Description: This retreat will focus on processes for writing and publishing a full-length book project. How do you begin to frame the ideas, scope, and organization? How do you anchor such a big project in knowledge traditions? Where and how do you look for models, seek feedback, and find a press?

Guiding Quotation for the session:

“Leave the dishes...
...Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button...
...Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic--decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos...
...Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks...
...Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters this ruse you call necessity.”

―“Advice to Myself” by Louise Erdrich, Original Fire 

Centering Reflection: Knowledge Traditions and Writing for Depth

Date: Friday, September 18, 2020 | Noon - 5 p.m.
Facilitator: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading 
Description: The theme is “Centering Reflection: Knowledge Traditions and Writing for Depth.” The retreat will include a discussion of Angela Davis' influential article “Reflections on the Black Woman's Role in the Community of Slaves” from The Massachusetts Review. Throughout the afternoon there will be both whole-group discussion and one-on-one time.

"Forging Relational Knowledges": Critical Co-Authoring

Date: November 13, 2020
Facilitators: Sabina Vaught, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading; Bryan M. J. Brayboy, (Lumbee), President's Professor and Senior Advisor to the President at Arizona State University; and Jeremiah Chin, PhD/JD, Assistant Professor of Law at St. Thomas University
Description: We will "think about how engaging interdisciplinarity and forging relational knowledges assist in anti-colonial academic research and teaching while also disrupting biocentric scripts, disciplined ways of knowing, and the spatial workings of knowledge" (p. 4) — From our advance reading: Katherine McKittrick's "Diachronic loops-deadweight tonnage/bad made measure," cultural geographies, 2016. Bring a project or an idea.  

Practices of Freedom Project image button

Academic Programs

Collaborations and Partnerships

Tri-State Area School Study Council

The Tri-State Area School Study Council is one of the oldest and largest study councils in the nation. With more than 100 school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, dioceses, colleges, and private schools as members, the Tri-State Council helps to improve educational opportunities for children by helping to strengthen school organization and administration. The council holds workshops, conferences, and lectures, as well as consultation services.

The Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents

The Western Pennsylvania Forum of School Superintendents facilitates a relationship among school leaders that is unprecedented. These chief educational officers and school superintendents have examined important ideas together and with experts, learned from each other, confronted new challenges within a professional peer group, and shared their innermost thoughts in a safe and trustful environment.

Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity

The Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) provides evaluation and assessment services for educational organizations, social and human services agencies, foundations, and other programs involved with children and youth. The community benefits from our affordable evaluation and assessment alternatives, while our faculty and graduate students who conduct the work benefit from professional development and work-study experience.

Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School

Fanny Edel Falk Elementary is a K-8 tuition-based campus laboratory school affiliated with the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1931 Falk has been known for providing a learning environment that is grounded in community, diversity, progressive and experiential education, individualized instruction and a low teacher-student ratio.

PittEd Justice Collective

The PittEd Justice Collective is a three-year working group at the School of Education that is engaged in anti-racist, justice-directed initiatives with students, staff, faculty, alumni, families, youth, and district and community partners.

Office of the Associate Dean for Equity and Justice

The Office of the Associate Dean for Equity and Justice works to center equity, justice, and inclusion in the teaching and learning, educational research, professional service, and community-engaged partnerships that occur across the Pitt School of Education.

TLL Department Faculty




Cassie Quigley (Chair)

Associate Professor

Tinukwa Boulder (Associate Chair)
Associate Professor

Linda Kucan (Associate Chair)

Anna Arlotta-Guerrero

Associate Professor

Tinukwa Boulder

Associate Professor

Sheila Conway

Associate Professor

Rip Correnti

Associate Professor

Patricia Crawford

Associate Professor

Frances Mary D'Andrea

Assistant Professor

M. Beatrice Dias

Assistant Professor

Richard Donato


Martez Files Assistant Professor

Loretta Fernandez

Visiting Assistant Professor

Amanda Godley

Professor and Vice Provost

Heather Hendry Annegan

Assistant Professor

Katrina Bartow Jacobs

Associate Professor

Douglas Kostewicz

Associate Professor

Linda Kucan


Lindsay Clare Matsumura


Tessa McCarthy

Associate Professor

Lisa Ortiz

Assistant Professor

Anthony Petrosky

Co-Director, Institute for Learning

Watufani Poe

Assistant Professor

Emily Rainey

Assistant Professor

Tom Ralston

Visiting Assistant Professor
Director, Superintendent's Forum

Rachel Robertson

Associate Professor

Khirsten Scott Assistant Professor

Michelle Sobolak

Associate Professor
Director, Teacher and Professional Education

Amy Srsic

Assistant Professor

Mary Kay Stein


Leigh Tanner

Visiting Assistant Professor

Veena Vasudevan

Assistant Professor

Sabina Vaught

Media and Highlights

Alumna Briana Ross Named 2021-22 Maryland Teacher of the Year

New Baldwin-Whitehall Elementary School Named After Alumna Randal Lutz

School Receives $2 Million Grant from McElhattan Foundation to Transform Teacher Education

Social Justice Curriculum Fair Inspires Educators

Student Spotlight: Tiffany Tamika Karma Robinson,Seeks to Close Early Childhood Education Gap

Student Spotlight: Simeon McCray Seeks to Cultivate Lifelong Love of Learning in His Students

TLL Faculty Resource Center

Visit the TLL Faculty Center for a centralized hub of resources related to teaching, research, academic affairs, and more.

**The resources are on a secure website and are available only to faculty**