Abby Reisman, Premier Teacher Development Scholar, Joins Penn GSE Faculty

July 8, 2014 – A premier young scholar in the study of excellence in the classroom is the latest addition to the faculty of Penn GSE's Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division (TLL). Groundbreaking research has made Dr. Abby Reisman a rising star in the field. Her innovative teacher development programs provide practical tools for working teachers.

Now, Reisman is bringing her energy and knowledge to Penn GSE's Teacher Education Program (TEP).

 “We are pleased to have Abby join our faculty,” said Dean Andy Porter.  “Her high energy, passion for excellence for teacher education, and commitment to drawing on research to improve teaching will keep Penn GSE on the forefront of teacher development.”

Reisman’s search to understand the best methods of preparing teachers began with her own time in front of students. Soon after finishing her undergraduate degree, Reisman taught English and social studies in a small, progressive New York City school.

“I found there weren’t sufficient resources out there for social studies teachers to use,” Reisman said. “I had all the ideas I wanted to use in the classroom, but none of the tools.”

That experience eventually inspired Reisman’s research examining what makes a good text, and how teachers can keep students engaged.

As a new assistant professor, Reisman will be teaching Social Studies Methods for secondary education students in the Teacher Education Program.

The MS. Ed. program prepares students to use the power of teaching to deepen student learning, transform schools, increase educational equity and move into leadership roles.

Coming to Penn GSE means that Reisman will be reunited with Pam Grossman when Grossman becomes dean of the college in January. Reisman studied under Grossman at Stanford. The relationship has had a lasting influence on Reisman’s work.

“She has consistently encouraged me to pay attention to the process of teacher learning and to the pedagogy of teacher education,” Reisman said. “Her work informs how I think about and design my methods courses for pre-service teachers and professional development for seasoned veterans. I'm thrilled that she's going to be dean.”

The drive to make it easier for teachers to teach, and students to learn has defined Reisman’s career.

The Harrington Park, N.J., native received her Ph.D. from Stanford and was a founder of the “Reading Like a Historian” curriculum. An article on the approach earned her the William Gilbert Award for the best article in teaching history from the American Historical Association. Reisman also spent two years as a visiting professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

While at Penn GSE, Reisman will continue to work with schools in Newark, N.J., and Prince William County, Va., to study education approaches and assist teacher development.

“I went to graduate school to try to figure out how to be a better teacher, assuming there was a repository of knowledge that I could just have about how learning happens,” Reisman said. “Of course, I realized that wasn’t the case.”

Instead, she found a series of challenges that inform her work to this day.

For a time, Reisman said, she focused solely on developing materials and curriculum.

“What I learned was that there’s no bypassing teachers,” she said. “Teachers are the ones who make learning happen in the classroom.”

That’s why, Reisman said, she’s energized to join Penn GSE, a top-ranked education school.  She is eager to be a part of a culture that’s dedicated to teacher learning and research on the best way to develop teachers.

“I continue to be interested in the questions that have driven me to this point,” Reisman said, “but I think it will be so exciting to work with the faculty there.”