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James Liou
2008 Alumni Classroom Fellow
Boston, Massachusetts

Photo of James Liou, Classroom Fellow
video James Liou explains the most important lesson he has learned as a teacher.

Bio/Overview: James Liou was part of the inaugural class of 2008 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows and was a full-time fellow in 2014 with the Office of Education Technology and the Office of State Support. He is currently working as a program officer at a Philadelphia philanthropy as a member of its education grant-making team. Prior to this experience, Liou led the Boston Public School’s History Department with a focus on teacher leadership. Liou spent the first two years of his teaching life as a wilderness therapeutic counselor for adjudicated youth in central North Carolina. Moving to the Boston area, Liou taught history for one year at Concord Academy and then made his way to his specific interest in teaching—the urban context of the Boston Public Schools. Liou taught for four years at the Boston Day and Evening Academy, a competency, diploma-granting high school for over-aged students and then hired to develop and teach the history senior capstone course at the Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA), one of Boston’s small pilot schools. He went on to hold more formal leadership positions since then, including working as a teacher-on-assignment in a peer assistance program.

Educational Values/Philosophy: Liou believes that good teaching relates, in essence, to attentiveness. It relates to an understanding that every year matters, every day matters, every hour matters, and every student matters. He believes that attention to detail, and the responsiveness, creativity and flexibility that this requires, crosses the many areas of responsibility a good teacher manages—ranging from subject area expertise, to an ability to draw the best out of colleagues, to the realm of classroom instruction and student relationships.

Achievements: Liou earned National Board certification in his content field, served on the Standards Revision Committee to revise and rewrite the Social Studies/History standards and is currently a member of the NBPTS Certification Council. He was a finalist to serve as the 12th grade teacher representative on the National Assessment Governing Board and also served as a member of the Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In the Boston area, he was involved in building capacity and institutional interest in teacher voice and teacher leadership initiatives through maintaining an independent website called The Teaching Pulse, in a democracy movement within the Boston Teachers Union known as BTUVotes and building in the expertise of teachers in district level history programming.

Leadership Experience: The hallmarks of Liou’s work with his BCLA students included the focus on community leadership, participatory action research initiatives with community-based partners, and the pride his students had in writing their 40-page research papers and crafting digital portfolios. Besides leadership experiences with NBPTS, Liou also directed the Boston Public Schools K-12 Civics initiative and over the past two years, formally led the district’s History and Social Studies Department—with a focus on supporting, deepening and defending the content’s instruction in the context of the new college and career standards.

Affiliations: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, Boston Teachers Union, National Council for the Social Studies.

Education: Liou received his Bachelor’s degree in history from William and Mary, and went on to earn his Masters in teaching at Brown University.

Areas of Interest/Expertise:

  • Teacher leadership
  • History/Social Studies and civics education
  • Community and school partnerships
  • Peer Assistance and Review programs
  • Digital platforms for content sharing
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Last Modified: 09/08/2015