Susan Moore Johnson

SUSAN MOORE JOHNSON is the Jerome T. Murphy Professor of Education in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Moore Johnson is also co-chair of the Public Education Leadership Project, a collaborative initiative with the Harvard School of Business to provide intensive summer training to school administrators. Having taught high school English for several years before pursuing her doctoral degree, Moore Johnson worked collaboratively with her graduate students to establish the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers and continues to chronicle the experiences of new teachers in a changing profession.

She dedicated much of her early career to the study of teachers unions, collaborative bargaining, and teachers’ working conditions. A modern pioneer in these areas, Moore Johnson has drawn attention to the contexts in which teachers perform their work, specifically highlighting the importance of schools’ collaborative culture in teacher retention. Recognized for her distinguished contributions to educational research and scholarship as well as her profound impact in teaching, Moore Johnson has been elected to the National Academy of Education and received the Morningstar Family Teaching Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Moore Johnson, honored by the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Educators with the Outstanding Book Award for Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (2004), has also written six books and numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly publications. Her most recent publications include: Redesigning Teacher Pay: A System for the Next Generation of Teachers (2009) and Managing School Districts for Higher Performance: Cases in Public Leadership (2007).

For more information, visit Susan Moore Johnson’s Website. To learn more about Susan Moore Johnson from her family and friends, visit her Reflections. To view photographs from Susan Moore Johnson’s personal collection, visit her Photo Gallery.


Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with Susan Moore Johnson. Otherwise, see all four of the full interviews with Susan Moore Johnson below.

Video Interviews with Susan Moore Johnson:

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Recalling her childhood in a small suburb of Youngstown, Ohio before the surrounding steel mills closed, Dr. Susan Moore Johnson enjoyed participating in Girl Scouts and summer camp at the YMCA. Inspired by her father, a high school English teacher, and other family members to consider a career in education, Moore Johnson envisioned herself as a teacher from a young age, even spending afternoons in his classroom helping to grade tests. Moore Johnson, having worked as both a teacher and administrator while pursuing her master’s degree in education at Harvard University, later returned to earn her doctorate there, where she discovered an interest in labor relations, and specifically the role of teachers’ unions and the importance of collective bargaining. She continued to hone her skills as a researcher, later accepting a position as a faculty member at her alma mater. Watch this clip to hear more from Dr. Moore Johnson about the importance of the writing process and defining herself as a qualitative researcher.

In response to resurging demands for teacher merit pay, Dr. Susan Moore Johnson describes the history of teacher compensation and, citing while questioning contemporary claims that more money will motivate teachers to work harder, explains the benefits of career-ladder programs that allow teachers to assume more responsibility for more pay. Also interested in the changing dynamic within teachers’ unions as a new generation of educators enters the profession, Moore Johnson recognizes the need for young teachers to both understand and facilitate the work of unions. In this clip, learn more about the importance of teachers’ working conditions in the overall success of a school, especially in schools serving high-needs students.

Dr. Susan Moore Johnson has been interested in the relationship between teachers in the classroom and their schools and districts throughout her career. Having forged a unique collaborative relationship between the Schools of Education and Business at Harvard University, Moore Johnson describes her work with colleagues to provide intensive summer training for school administrators. In addition, she shares her excitement about an initiative undertaken with her doctoral students to chronicle the experiences of new teachers, including the experiences of her daughter as she too entered teaching. Recalling her own experience entering the profession nearly 30 years earlier, Moore Johnson expresses her keen interest in the next generation of educators. In this clip, learn more from Dr. Moore Johnson about one of her most valuable resources as a researcher and scholar—her own insights as a classroom teacher.

Already a distinguished educational researcher and scholar, Dr. Susan Moore Johnson insists that she “tends not to plan ahead” but would like to synthesize what is known about teacher quality as part of her future research. She describes her continued interest in work that leads to differentiated career paths for teachers, especially as academic leaders in their schools, adding that the days when teachers spend 30 years in the classroom are gone. Always having been interested in the study of law as well, Moore Johnson explains that a career in education has made her much happier than she would have been in the courtroom—she prefers engaging with people over confrontation. Watch this clip to hear Dr. Moore Johnson’s advice to graduate students as she counsels those seeking to enter academia to “focus on what makes you happy day to day.”

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2012, September 3). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Susan Moore Johnson [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/susan-moore-johnson