UW College of Education e-news
September 2010  |  Return to issue home

Welcome to the Neighborhood: Meet Heather Hebard

Heather Hebard, a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Teacher Education at the Stanford School of Education, is new to the College this fall. She will be an assistant professor focusing her teaching and research on literacy education. Prior to Stanford, Hebard obtained an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and Education as well as an elementary teaching credential with crosscultural, language, and academic development certification at Santa Clara University.

When asked about her reason for joining the community, Hebard states, "It was energizing to engage with people who are passionate about their research and about supporting new teachers…I thought, 'Wow, if I had the honor to work with these people, that would be a dream.' When they offered me the position it was a no-brainer."

The decision was a no-brainer for the College community as well. Former Dean Pat Wasley raved about Hebard’s visit and her search committee instinctively knew she would be the right fit.

As Deborah McCutchen, professor and associate dean for Research at the College, says, "Heather brings expertise in the areas of reading and writing, and she has a deep interest in developing the capacity of teachers to teach in these areas. Moreover, when one of our national colleagues identifies someone as a 'most gifted instructor,' we had to take note."

Hebard is motivated around a cluster of specific questions regarding teacher preparation. From pedagogy for teacher education, including what methods best foster teacher learning, to how faculty make meaningful connections between training at the university and what is happening in real schools. She is also interested in induction, the process of supporting teachers through their first few years of teaching in a real classroom. 

"Looking at how we prepare teachers for a practice that requires more than initial training, and researching how we can best provide continued support through various means, such as apprenticeship models , high-quality curriculum, ongoing professional development and mentoring," Hebard summarizes. "Before coming to Stanford, I was a teacher consultant for the Writing Project and I was a literacy coach in my district. I found that teachers weren’t prepared to teach writing in pre-service and most districts didn’t offer them support once they graduated…Teachers were left in the lurch, without preparation or support. Teachers didn’t have a common language for supporting students in writing. My reason for coming to graduate school was to investigate what we know about the practice, what the research is, and how we support teachers in understanding and using that knowledge."

Given the work that the Teacher Education Program has conducted to redesign the program, place an emphasis on work within the community, and provide induction support, the College is a fantastic match for Hebards’s strengths.

Hebard has been awarded several grants and fellowships. In 2009, she received the Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education as well as the Stanford School of Education Dissertation Support Grant. In terms of research, her dissertation, Writing Lessons: Case Studies of Beginning Teachers, studied teacher learning in writing instruction through a longitudinal, comparative case study of two comparable, public teacher education programs. She followed nine case study teachers in their preservice writing methods courses and through the first year of teaching, analyzing features of the settings in which teachers learned, such as methods courses and grade-level planning using a cultural-historical activity theory framework.

Formerly an elementary school teacher, Heather obtained her Ph.D. at Stanford University in Curriculum and Teacher Education, where she studied literacy and teacher learning. Hebard worked as a graduate instructor and conducted literacy research.

"What makes UW particularly exciting is the dedication to teacher education across the school," Hebard enthuses. "I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to best prepare teachers for the classroom, and I’ll be thrilled to work with others who share that passion. I’m also excited about the amazing group of literacy researchers at UW. I’ve already had a chance to meet Roxanne Hudson, Deborah McCutchen, Sheila Valencia, and I’m looking forward to opportunities to collaborate in research and teaching. I’m excited to be a part of the literacy community there."

September 2010  |  Return to issue home

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