Bio/Overview: James is currently working as a program officer at a Philadelphia-based philanthropy group called Great Learning at William Penn Foundation as a member of its education grant-making team. 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. Prior to this experience, Liou led the Boston Public School’s History Department with a focus on creating curricular and instructional resources in support of both disciplinary and content literacy, as well as 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. He believes that attention to detail, and the responsiveness, creativity and energy that this requires, relates to the many areas of responsibility a good teacher manages—ranging from rich content instruction, drawing the best out of colleagues, and building great relationships with students.
Achievements: Liou earned National Board certification in his content field, served on the Standards Revision Committee to revise the Social Studies/History standards and is 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 interest in teacher voice and teacher leadership initiatives through a website called The Teaching Pulse, in a democracy movement within the Boston Teachers Union known as BTUVotes, and building in the expertise of teachers to shape district level history programming.
Leadership Experience: The hallmarks of Liou’s work with his high school 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 led the district’s History and Social Studies Department—with a focus on supporting, deepening and defending history instruction in the context of the new college and career standards.
Affiliations: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, National Council for the Social Studies, Grantmakers for Education.
Education: Liou received his Bachelor’s degree in history from William and Mary, and his Masters in Teaching at Brown University.
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