Teaching

I believe a teacher’s role is to support students in empowering themselves and their communities. Our society is deeply unequal, shaped by colonialism, racism, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression. These wrongs cannot be righted by education alone, but I do believe education has a vital role to play in helping students disrupt these systems to build a more just and equal world. As an educator, then, my goal -- informed by Gloria Ladson-Billings’s model of culturally relevant pedagogy and Derek Hodson's framework for critical scientific literacy -- is to support all students in developing knowledge, skills, and inclinations that enable them to challenge injustice, overcome inequality, and support others in doing the same. I advance this goal through constructivist pedagogy informed by Nystrand and Aukerman's models of dialogic teaching and Cohen and Lotan's framework for facilitating equitable classroom interaction.

Teacher Education (M.A. or M.Ed.) Courses

EDU 6305: Differentiated Instruction in Science (Southern Methodist University)

Most recently taught: Spring 2021


Course Description:


Every human being is unique. No two of us have exactly the same set of knowledge, life experiences, motivations, relationships, and schema for understanding the world. This suggests that no two of us learn in exactly the same way; we will always walk away from a given situation or stimulus with different knowledge, skills, ideas, or emotions than someone else would, even if these differences are subtle. This has important implications for classroom teaching: it means that providing identical situations and stimuli for all students (e.g., teaching solely through whole-class, didactic lectures) is fundamentally unlikely to produce equitable outcomes or equitable opportunities for all students.


Differentiated instruction is the name collectively given to teaching strategies and approaches that strive to foster equitable outcomes for all students by utilizing the diversity of students’ knowledge, life experiences, motivations, relationships, etc. Successful differentiation is challenging but eminently possible -- indeed, many teachers across the U.S. and around the world do it on a regular basis. Popular frameworks for differentiation include Universal Design for Learning as well as Tomlinson's model of differentiated content, processes, products, and environments. However, some strategies often thought of as differentiation can actually undermine educational equity, and some valuable differentiation strategies can be harmful if misused or overused. A growing body of research can help us identify when, how, and for whom specific differentiation strategies are likely to promote equitable outcomes -- the focus of this course.


Differentiated instruction is particularly important in science education. Non-differentiated science instruction has historically been commonplace, and has (re)produced serious inequities -- including, but not limited to, racial, ethnic, gender, linguistic, and socioeconomic disparities in scientific literacy and participation in scientific careers. Furthermore, non-differentiated instruction often undermines key epistemological tenets of science, leading students to mis-understand how science works even if they succeed at learning particular bodies of scientific knowledge. In this course, we will work together to help you design and implement instruction that enables students to do science and use science in pursuit of a more just and equitable world.


Student Feedback:


"Quentin was a great professor. He cares about his subject and he cares about his students. I really really appreciate how understanding he is and how much time and thought he puts into our feedback on assignments. I would definitely take him again if I had the chance."


"I learned a lot of different technology tools that I can take back to my classroom and use with my virtual students."


"The feedback on assignments was incredibly detailed and helpful."


"I really enjoyed learning about things that I could take back into my classroom the very next day and try."


"I think the selection of readings was very good and informative. I appreciate that he went for quality over quantity and found some really strong pieces that could still be read in a reasonable time. I think his essays and assignments were really strong in helping us find ways to implement strategies discussed in the reading. I found myself really closely analyzing each part of the [final] essay and thinking of the pros and cons each [differentiation] strategy could have on my class."

EDU 6349: The Science of Learning and STEM Education (Southern Methodist University)

Most recently taught: Fall 2020


Course Description:


Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have the potential to be profoundly empowering. Yet too often, many K-12 students find these disciplines to be profoundly disempowering. EDU 6349 is intended to support a community of teachers working to rectify this issue. Together with your peers, you will construct an understanding of STEM education research from the learning sciences and apply this understanding to design and teach lessons that strive to support all of your students in their pursuit of personal and collective empowerment.

To achieve these goals, we will examine several pedagogical approaches that have been the subject of extensive research and which can be used for organizing integrated STEM instruction. These approaches include Complex Instruction, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, and Problem- or Project-Based Learning. By studying these approaches and implementing at least two of them in lessons with your own students, you will develop a practical understanding of their use, their affordances, and their constraints. You will know not only how to use these approaches, but also when and why to use them (as well as how to identify misuses of these approaches). In doing so, you will grow as a professional and complete the course better able to make purposeful decisions in the design and implementation of your own lessons.


Student Feedback:


"I like the fact that the professor teaches what he preached; he allowed a lot of conversations in class about how we can apply what we learned."


"I really, truly enjoyed this course and its structure! Even though we were remote, I still felt highly connected to the class and my classmates."


"Professor Sedlacek was very encouraging, patient, enthusiastic & attentive to our needs. His guest speakers were great! He went above and beyond to be available for help and feedback!"


"This course is probably one of the best courses in terms of use of technology. Quentin gave us so many new resources this semester."


"Loved the energy of the professor and his engagement with the students...Great at providing feedback and resources to help us grow and do better in future assignments (and in our future teachings)."




EDU 267A: Curriculum and Instruction in Science (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Summer 2018; co-taught with Bryan Brown (lead instructor) and Emily Reigh


Course Description:


Only a small part of teaching is visible to a student or an observer; most people underestimate the amount of knowledge and skill that good teaching requires. Furthermore, being a good student does not always translate into being a good teacher. Most people think that teaching is largely about knowing the science and telling it in such an engaging way that the students will actually listen. They suppose that if the students listen well, they will learn and understand. Such conversations often revolve around one’s “teaching style,” implying that a new teacher’s job is to develop a personal style of delivery. However, learning is far more complex than simply listening and teaching is far more complex than simply talking.

While we do think that there is a place for individuality in teaching, we also think that is important to develop a shared understanding of the foundations of successful teaching that is grounded in educational research. In this course -- and your other STEP courses throughout the year -- you will study the complexities of teaching and learning, and you will learn how to plan and implement lessons using research-based practices that take these complexities into account.

The summer session of curriculum and instruction is a brief course that provides an overview of ideas that we will revisit over the course of the academic year. The course provides an opportunity for participants to develop a fundamental understanding of the first stages of instructional planning. This does not mean learning to lesson plan; rather, this short course focuses on helping you understand the science content more deeply in order to present it in a way that will resonate with students. Specifically, you will: (1) Decide what to teach and articulate goals that are worthwhile and appropriate for students; (2) gather data about your students’ strengths, backgrounds, and interests to support their learning; (3) create mechanisms so students can demonstrate they have learned what you have planned for them to learn; and (4) design instructional tasks to engage students in learning.


Student Feedback:


"Quentin pushed us to think deeply and intentionally about what we convey to our students."


"Quentin's feedbacks were always very thoughtful. He asked a lot of questions during our meetings so that I would answer my own questions."


EDU 289: The Centrality of Literacies in Teaching and Learning (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Summer 2016; co-taught with Maren Aukerman (lead instructor), Liam Aiello, Cathy Humphreys, Paolo Martin, and Lisel Murdock-Perriera


Course Description:


Regardless of your content area, the reading of text will almost certainly play a central role in your future classroom: from historical documents to word problems to science textbooks to poems and beyond, you will be asking your students to make sense of text. For this reason, our course is organized around recognizing and engaging students as sense-makers. It will address the following: What is reading comprehension? How does learning content fit with textual sensemaking? Who is a sense-maker? How can teachers deepen the ways in which they trust, value, and seek to understand students’ sensemaking? How do adolescents extend and transform their textual sensemaking? How can a teacher orchestrate instruction so that wrestling with peers’ ideas about text becomes a practice that is meaningful and sensible to students?


Sounds great if kids are on the right track as far as what the text means, but what if they aren’t? Ah, there’s the rub, and a place where we expect this class to be a challenge and an exercise in learning to trust your students. It’s much easier to trust, value, and seek to understand the textual ideas that align with our own, but it’s arguably even more important to trust, value, and seek to understand textual ideas that don’t. There is evidence that students who have the opportunity to wrestle with each other’s thinking are actually at an advantage when it comes to lasting understandings (Nystrand, 1997), suggesting that focusing on whether a student got this one part of the text “right” may short-circuit opportunities for deeper comprehension in the long run. But beyond that, a premise of this course is that students who engage in discussion centered on student textual ideas are learning more than just what a text means, or the content information a text communicates: they are learning what it can mean to communicate ideas, marshal evidence and engage with each other’s ideas; they are developing ideas about what reading is, what it is good for, and who they are as readers; they are developing intellectually curious and critical dispositions toward content, learning, dialogue, and their own textual ideas; and, finally, they are learning to see each other as particular kinds of intellectual partners and resources. Teaching content area reading is about all of these things.


Doctoral-Level Courses

EDU 325C: Doctoral Proseminar on Identity and Inequality in U.S. Schools (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Spring 2018; co-taught with Ari Kelman (lead instructor) and Amanda Frye; also co-taught with Leah Gordon in prior year


Course Description:


The primary purpose of this course is to deepen and expand your understanding of how cultural and social forces shape schooling and education in American society and culture. In order to provide both the breadth and the depth necessary to cover this very broad terrain, we have divided the course into three sections. Part I introduces some key conceptual tools for investigating how we think critically about relationships between culture and education. We have chosen to focus specifically on three such concepts: culture, identity, and the law. Each individually and in combination will reveal how larger social forces shape the very ways in which we conceive of ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and our country. Part II is divided according to weekly “deep dives” into specific cultural formations. We regret having to divide our syllabus in this way because it creates artificial distinctions between cultural formations that usually don’t exist (we all live in bodies that are subject to regimes of race, class, and gender, for example). But, in order to attend to these complex formations with depth, we are splitting them out. Our intention is to create spaces for deep and sustained engagement with each of these cultural formations, so that we can understand how they work in concert and tension in the “real world.” Part III is designed as a moment of synthesis, around a single book-length case study and around the construction of syllabuses (which is your final assignment). It is an opportunity to bring some of the ideas we’ve encountered in class to bear on one another, on the specific case study in the book, and on your own notions of how one might try to construct an introduction to education course.


Student Feedback:


“My first interaction with Quentin was as a student in Proseminar. Like most first year students, I was nervous, confused, and overwhelmed. Quentin made a concerted effort to encourage all of us. He provided impromptu mentoring sessions after class, created annotated bibliographies to help us with our final papers, wrote detailed comments on our assignments, and took the time to ask us how we were doing when he saw us in the CERAS lobby, hunched over our computers. No matter how stressed we all were, he assured us: “It’s gonna be great.” And he meant it. Through his words and actions, he showed that believed in our potential as scholars, but also cared about us as human beings. Without his mantra ringing through my head—and the knowledge that he genuinely had faith in me—I would have had trouble surviving my first year.”


EDU 325B: Doctoral Proseminar on Learning Sciences in Education (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Winter 2018; co-taught with Bryan Brown (lead instructor) and Amanda Frye; also co-taught with Paulo Blikstein and Candace Thille in prior year


Course Description:


Learning is an inherently human activity. When young people enter classrooms their capacity to learn is impacted by cognitive, social, psychological, economic, cultural, gender, technological, and emotive interactions that impact learning. Effective teaching is rooted in instructors providing students access to teaching that is rooted in an understanding of how learning is shaped by these dynamic influences. As such, scholars of education must develop a nuanced understanding of the dynamic relationship between teaching and learning.


This course is designed to introduce students to research about teaching and learning in education. It is designed to explore three fundamental aspects of the educational process: (1) understanding the history of research on teaching and learning, (2) the impact of social factors on teaching and learning, and (3) the teacher's responsibilities to design and implement instruction. We view the challenge of teaching as the creation of bridges between the knowledge embodied in the subject matter, on the one hand, and the minds and motives of students, on the other hand. In various content areas, we will ask: What is learning? What are the general processes of learning and thinking? How are these processes influenced by aspects of student identity, culture, prior knowledge, and experience? How can teachers transform their subject matter knowledge into representations that help students draw on their own resources to construct and transform knowledge of their own? How can teachers assess what students know and how they learn in order to adapt their instruction as well as evaluate student work?


These are tough questions, of a sort rarely answered once and for all, no matter how many years one has been teaching. They are tough because they occupy that contested territory between theory and practice, where both perspectives are needed but neither can suffice. They are tough because, at a theoretical level, they demand the contributions of many disciplines, such as psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy. They are tough because at a practical level no two situations are quite comparable, and the helpful maxim for one setting becomes balderdash for another. Learning to teach thus demands that we weave delicate webs of the general and the particular, finding ways to enrich our personal experiences through studying the experiences of others, seeking theoretical insights that give meaning to what we do, or raising skeptical questions about what we think we know.


In this course, we will engage these challenges through readings, demonstrations, discussions, activities, assignments and lectures about broad principles of learning, in addition to reading and discussing cases of teaching.

EDU 325A: Doctoral Proseminar on History of Schooling in the United States (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Fall 2017; co-taught with David Labaree (lead instructor) and Amanda Frye; also co-taught with David Shuang Song in prior year


Course Description:


The aim of this class is to give first-year doctoral students in education a grounding in some of the big issues surrounding the social role and social practice of schooling, with special emphasis on teaching and learning in classrooms and on school organization. Each of you will soon be specializing in a particular component of the educational domain, but it will be helpful to you to be able to locate your own special area to broader themes and literatures in the field. A lot of the readings in the class are nodal pieces in the network of educational citations; these are works you need to become familiar with. This and the other proseminar classes should help you answer crucial questions about your own work. What is your study a case of? What larger issues does it resonate with? What does it contribute to the larger discourse about school and society? Topics include: (1) the backstory of schooling in the U.S.; (2) the grammar of schooling that both defines it and makes it resistant to change; (3) the ways that schools create winners and losers and how they both promote and ameliorate social differences; (4) the loose coupling of the nested components of American schooling (classroom, school, school district, and state system) that make it different from other organizations; (5) how the shared expectations of teachers, students, and parents reinforce our conception of what a “real school” is; (6) the class and race factors that shape the kind of cultural knowledge and skill (cultural capital) schools value and try to teach; (7) two different theoretical perspectives on the social role of the school curriculum – the functionalist view that schools teach the knowledge and values that all adults need in order to function in a modern society, and the social reproduction view that schools teach different knowledge and values to students from different backgrounds, thus preparing them for stratified futures; (8) the ways in which market organizations are primarily responsive to exit, in which customers signal their dissatisfaction with a product by buying another one instead, whereas political organizations are primarily responsive to voice, in which clients signal their dissatisfaction by directly voicing their complaint; (9) the problems inherent in efforts by planners in the capital to impose a highly rationalized and universalistic model of social order on remote ecologies that are organic and particularistic; and (10) the role that educational researchers play in shaping educational policy, the nature of educational research as a practice, and the trajectory of academic careers in a stratified system of higher education.


EDU 322 / AFAM 130: Community-Based Research as a Tool for Social Action (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Fall 2017; co-taught with Arnetha Ball (lead instructor)


Course Description:


This seminar is designed for students interested in engaging in community-based research and/or classroom-based research as a tool for social action. Topics covered in this course will prepare students to conduct research designed to take place in collaboration with community or classroom partners with three goals in mind: to build new knowledge and skills on the part of students, to respond to community and classroom needs, and to ultimately contribute to improved life for community residents and student populations. This course provides Stanford students with the frameworks, strategies, tools, and understanding they will need to embark on community-based/classroom-based partnership research that a) brings greater clarity to the challenges these institutions face, and b) considers effective strategies for resolving them. As part of the course, students will embark on or advance a research project by collecting and analyzing data that will assist the partner organization in serving the community and society at large.


Professional Development Courses

Making Groupwork Work in College Classrooms (CSU Monterey Bay)

Most recently taught: Fall 2019


Course Description:


This college faculty development co-op was focused on Complex Instruction, a set of research-based practices for designing and implementing equitable groupwork (Cohen & Lotan, 1997; 2014).

Reading to Learn in Science (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Fall 2018; co-developed with Jonathan Osborne (lead instructor), Michelle Friend, Catherine Lemmi, and Brian Donovan


Course Description:


This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was designed to support K-12 science teachers' use of research-based strategies to support student reading comprehension when engaging with science texts.

Linguistic Discrimination (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Winter 2018; co-developed with Tom Wasow (lead instructor) and Suki Mozenter


Course Description:


This six-week adult education course, offered as part of a collaboration between Stanford Law School and a local community organization, was designed to support participants in developing an understanding of linguistic diversity, nondiscrimination law, and tools for self-advocacy.

Beyond Bar Graphs: Integrating Math and Science Teaching (Stanford)

Most recently taught: Spring 2016; co-developed with Holly Pope (lead instructor)


Course Description:


This yearlong professional development workshop series supported elementary educators in understanding the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and strategies for integrating these frameworks in their instructional activities.