I have been involved in teaching and learning for my entire professional life. My 35 years working with students and teachers have enriched my life beyond measure. I have been teaching at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury, Vermont since 1981. My passion has been teaching Ancient history and Philosophy, especially a class Three Democracies, that examines what citizens today can learn from the rise and fall of the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republican government If I have garnered anything from the past three decades in working with young people it is this: that “the one that does the work does the learning.” Students must be engaged in asking deep and meaningful questions about what they are learning, and they must have an authentic voice in our classrooms and communities.
I am fiercely committed to inquiry and equity in my practice, I believe that unless classroom practice for students and teachers is redesigned, the danger is that New Vermont Education Quality Standards, Flexible Pathways and PLPs will be little more than “check off lists,” and significant and persistent disparities between groups of students – the “achievement gap” – may widen. Unless strategies and structures that encourage students to take charge of their own education are implemented, young people will not have the skills and the dispositions to take ownership of PLPs. Without guided practice and clear models, teachers will not know how to work in new and innovative ways.
I firmly believe that we must undo what previous schooling has done to inhibit curiosity and the creative thinking of students. “If we want to engage students in thinking through our content we must stimulate their thinking with questions that lead them to further questions. We must resuscitate minds that are largely dead when we receive them. We must give our students what might be called “artificial cogitation” (the intellectual equivalent of artificial respiration)” (Paul, Martin, Adamson, 1989).
The focus for my Rowland Foundation Fellowship for the 2016- 2017 school year is to investigate the ways that Socratic dialogue can be used at the classroom level to create the fundamental shift to student-directed learning that must be at the heart of school transformation.
In the fall of 2016, I will visit schools that successfully implement Socratic approaches to observe instruction and talk with students, teachers and administrators to learn more about the benefits and the challenges of implementing this methodology. This site is the beginning of what I hope will be a resource center for teachers that will include resource materials, protocols, instructional methodologies, an interactive discussion forum and videos that illustrate Socratic dialogue in the classroom.
In the spring of 2017, I will assume a modified teaching load and model Socratic dialogue in my practice; I envision my classroom as a laboratory where students and faculty can work to develop the knowledge and skills to implement this approach As Socratic dialogue becomes embedded into the fabric of Harwood, I wish to work with students and engaged faculty to extend this model to other schools throughout Vermont. Socrates, who realized that the search for truth must begin with asking the right questions, said “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” The time to ignite this flame in the teaching and learning in our classrooms is now.
Other things about me:
I have a BA from Middlebury College in Sociology/Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in International Studies from the University of Denver. I am currently enrolled in a Master’s program in Classical Studies at St. John’s College, Santé Fe, New Mexico. I have been teaching at Harwood Union High School since 1981. In 2016, in addition to the Rowland Fellowship, I was awarded the Foundation for Excellence in Education award for Vermont and the Gilder-Lehrman History Teacher of the Year for Vermont
I am one of the founders of PH International, which I with Charlie Hosford and David Kelley in 1985 when I was teaching at Harwood. PH International’s mission is to build a strong global community by fostering civic engagement, cross-cultural learning, and increased opportunities in the digital age. PH International pursues this vision by conducting innovative programs for youth, professionals and communities around the world that uses in-person and online engagement, practical skills development and coalition building to support global collaboration, learning and advancement. As part of my work with PH International, I have done extensive travel and teaching abroad and taught English in the Republic of Georgia for an academic year. I continue to consult with PH International and work to offer professional training opportunities for teachers and students in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
When I am not reading, meditating or engaging in schoolwork (which is my first love, I admit) I love being in the out of doors. My two children, Celia and Parker, both went to Harwood Union High School and Middlebury College, and my husband Jared serves as the chairperson of the Fayston Select Board and is currently the President of the Board of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. I appreciate the unconditional support of my family as I work in this amazing and challenging job.