Debbie Parker
Danbury, CT

Bio: As middle school teacher for 15 years and now Literacy/Instructional Coach and High School English Chair, in New Fairfield Schools, New Fairfield, Connecticut, I work with English and content area teachers to put students at the center of their own learning. High impact instructional strategies to create effective Tier 1 classrooms for improved comprehension and writing are also part of my focus. I’m a member of our grant committee through the NESSC/Great Schools Partnership which emphasizes personalized learning, and I’m a strong believer in it. Mastery-based grading, reading and writing workshop help student success. I created a Tier 2 Strategies Workshop for struggling readers in grades 6-8. Students work individually and in small groups within the same grade level with me on reading and writing skills. My Literacy Workshop for grade 8 is takes the approach of working with the whole child and not only focuses on literacy skills but on executive functioning too to help prepare the students for high school. Often these students have previously worked with me in grades 6 or 7. Because of my close work with my colleagues and coaching students how to apply the skills from my classes, students are better able to integrate these strategies into their classwork and assignments. There has been great success with the goal of students receiving targeted assistance in areas of weakness so they can become more confident and successful. As high school English Department Chair, I work with teachers to understand mastery-based learning, inquiry, depth of learning rather than breadth, and differentiation. I implemented Reading Seminar to help struggling readers reading below grade level. I began coaching to these English teachers to understand the need for formative assessment and personalized learning. In the past year, I began a Writing Seminar as well as an SAT Seminar to help support students in those areas too. 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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