Debbie Parker
Danbury, CT

Bio: As middle school teacher for 16 years, high school English Chair for 4 years, and 5 years as a Literacy/Instructional Coach in New Fairfield Schools, New Fairfield, Connecticut, I work with all teachers to put students at the center of their own learning. My focus is to create less teacher-talk and more effective questioning so that the discussion is between students. High-impact instructional strategies to create effective Tier 1 classrooms for improved comprehension and writing are also a focus. I teach Tier 2 writing and reading intervention. I am an advocate for differentiated learning, mastery-based grading, and reading and writing workshop -- all of which work toward student success. Because of my close work with my colleagues and coaching students how to apply the skills from my classes into their regularly scheduled classes, students are better able to integrate these strategies into their classwork and assignments. Students have great success during and after receiving targeted assistance in areas of weakness so they can become more confident and successful. As high school English Department Chair, I worked with teachers to understand mastery-based learning, inquiry, depth of learning rather than breadth, and differentiation. I implemented Reading Seminar and Writing Seminar to help struggling readers and writing who were below grade level. I coach these English teachers to understand the need for formative assessment and personalized learning. A SAT Seminar was also created to help support students not only to prepare for the test but to apply the same skills for classes and beyond. Putting the pieces together for all of our students is my goal -- that's why differentiation for students at all levels is so essential through these seminars. I was the New Fairfield Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2005 and nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2013. In 2014-2015 my school was named the Middle School of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Schools. I have presented about a variety of topics and most frequently regarding my strong beliefs and success with mastery-based grading. In November 2017, a colleague and I presented at the Connecticut Reading Association Conference, "Thinking it Through: Literacy in the Science Classroom." One of the puzzles that educators must deal with is the collaboration between content areas.

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