Program Highlights

2015-16 Mills Teacher Scholars School and District Partnerships

Program Highlights

Our 2015 site partnerships are going strong. With ten site-based groups and four cross-site groups supported by our Teacher Scholar Leader Network and Principal Inquiry Network, we are working with over 275 teachers, coaches and principals from across the East Bay.

School Site Partnerships


At a recent Principal Inquiry Network session, principals discuss how to support teacher learning at their site.

At Melrose Leadership Academy (Oakland Unified), the inquiry group is facilitated by veteran teacher scholar leaders, Nessa Mahmoudi, Laura Alvarez, and Luz Salazar Jed. Their inquiry work is focused on supporting teachers to building a positive and aligned school culture that contributes to supporting students’ reading development. They are using their inquiry space to engage with the district’s new Teacher Growth and Development System.

RISE Community School (Oakland Unified) is narrowing its Balanced Literacy focus– established in their previous year’s inquiry work– to explore the reading-writing connection. They are developing instructional practices to support students to use writing as a means to deepen their understanding of their reading, to attend more closely to texts, and to communicate their ideas about reading to others.

New Highland Elementary’s (Oakland Unified) teacher scholars group is focused on supporting the practice of new teachers as well as building the instructional leadership capacity of veteran teachers and coaches.

Life group shot

The Life Academy Humanities team poses outside their school mural.

The Life Academy of Health and Bioscience Humanities Department (Oakland Unified) is using inquiry to improve how teachers serve long-term English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades 6-12. Life Academy received a Light Award to partner with Mills Teacher Scholars for this purpose.

Mt. Eden High School’s (Hayward Unified) teacher scholars are delving into using inquiry to build interdisciplinary collaboration and to refine instructional practices to make the curriculum in all disciplines more accessible and meaningful for their English Language Learners.

John Muir (Berkeley Unified) teachers are strengthening their practices around equity and Response to Intervention (RTI). They are examining how students understand and interact with content when teachers provide targeted interventions and plan for lesson differentiation.

Rosa Parks (Berkeley Unified) is focusing on refining the shared instructional practice of building understanding through academic discussion. In their fifth year, the group is led by veteran teacher scholar leaders, Michelle Contreras and Matilde Merello. Rosa Parks is paving the way on how to effectively use collaborative analysis of student video data as a method to improve instruction.

AnnaYatesAnna Yates (Emery Unified) is focusing on creating professional learning opportunities that include building teachers’ collaborative discourse and data analysis skills. They are using the inquiry space to build collegiality and share classroom practice.

Colonial Acres Elementary (San Lorenzo Unified) is using inquiry to help teachers refine instructional practices to meet students’ needs as they implement their comprehensive approach to building academic language and literacy skills.

Albany High School is focusing its inquiry work on Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning. Over the past year, the Albany Teacher Scholars group broadened the scope of student learning data the teachers in the group used to include audio and video data, as well as interview data and other classroom based real-time data. This year, teachers will be working on broadening their conception of Claims, Evidence and Reasoning in ways that will allow them to authentically use these categories across disciplines, to support instructional alignment.

Cross-Site District Partnerships


OUSD Early Childhood Special Education Teacher Scholars

The Oakland Unified Early Childhood Special Education Department incorporates teachers from sites across Oakland Unified. The group is focused on understanding how to refine instructional practices to support students’ social communication.

Oakland Unified’s Social Emotional Learning Teacher Scholars bring teachers together from Caring School Communities Learning Hub Schools to understand how social and emotional learning supports academic learning and refine instructional practice based on those understandings.

Oakland Unified’s Newcomer Teacher Scholars is a cross-district group of teachers of newcomers who are focusing their inquiry work on supporting newcomer students in the three key practices of OUSD’s English Language Learner and Multi-lingual Achievement Office: using complex text, fortifying output, and engaging in academic discussions.

Berkeley Unified School District’s Music Teacher Scholars are focusing their inquiry work this year on practices that will support equity in teaching and learning music. Over the past two years, through analyzing classroom-based data, teachers in the group have identified a number of practices that support equity, including strategies for taking an asset-based approach to individual students, and formative assessments that allow students to identify their own goals for learning to play instruments. Teachers are testing out these strategies and working to implement department-wide practices.