Tara Affolter is an Assistant Professor in Education Studies at Middlebury College. She completed her dissertation, “Through the Fog: The Lives of Anti-Racist Teachers,” in the department of Education Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2006 where her advisors included Stacey Lee, Gloria Ladson-Billings, and Mary Louise Gomez. Prior to coming to Middlebury she taught part time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for Educational Policy Studies department. Dr. Affolter has over 15 years experience teaching high school English and theatre while working for social justice within the public schools.
Additionally, Dr. Affolter has research and teaching experience in antiracist teaching, social justice education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and Critical Race Theory. Her current research looks at experiences of students of color at predominantly white liberal arts colleges in order to find more effective ways to build, support, and sustain diverse communities of learners. She is also developing programming to support teachers in rural settings to effectively develop critical multicultural curricula and pedagogy.
Her teaching at Middlebury seeks to provide anyone who has an interest in education with the tools and lenses needed to successfully critique and dismantle inequities in schools. She is keenly interested in finding ways to build fully inclusive environments within schools, colleges, and universities. To that end, each year she teaches Education in the U.S. (EDST 115) and Models of Inclusive Education (EDST 300) and supports student teachers in a variety of ways throughout the professional semester. She also periodically offers specialized courses including, but not limited to, Education for Social Justice (EDST 230); Critical Race Theory in Education (EDST 1020); and August Wilson in the Classroom (EDST 102).
On campus, in addition to her position within Education Studies, Dr. Affolter is the proud mentor of Middlebury Posse 13 and works closely with the Carr Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Outside of the academic realm, Dr. Affolter enjoys being outside for almost anything active, acting, and spending time with her husband, Steve, (and any other family members she can track down) and frolicking with her dog, Scout.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
EDST 0115 - Education In the USA
Education in the USA
What are schools for? What makes education in a democracy unique? What counts as evidence of that uniqueness? What roles do schools play in educating citizens in a democracy for a democracy? In this course, we will engage these questions while investigating education as a social, cultural, political, and economic process. We will develop new understandings of current policy disputes regarding a broad range or educational issues by examining the familiar through different ideological and disciplinary lenses. 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. NOR SOC
Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
EDST 0230 - Social Justice in Education
Social Justice in Education
Schools can help break cycles of oppression. In this course students will learn how to enact social justice in education. We will take an interdisciplinary approach in examining interconnected social identities and how they complicate issues of privilege, access, and power in schools. Ultimately, we will explore social justice frameworks that promote equity and justice for all students. Service learning is an integral component of this course that will help students move from theory to action as advocates of social justice. 3 hrs.lect. SOC
EDST 0300 - Models of Inclusive Education ▲
Models of Inclusive Education
In this course we will focus on strategies and techniques for including students with diverse learning styles in general education environments. Legal, theoretical, philosophical, and programmatic changes leading toward inclusive models of education will be approached through a historical overview of special education for students with disabilities. Additionally, the course works to expand notions of inclusion such that students' multiple identities are incorporated into all learning. Emphasis is given to the active learning models and differentiated curriculum and instruction to accommodate a range of learners with diverse disabilities, abilities, and identities. (EDST 0115 or SOAN 0215 or AMST 0105). NOR SOC
Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015
EDST 0410 - Student Teaching Seminar
Student Teaching Seminar
Concurrent with student teaching, this course is designed to provide guidance in curriculum development and its implementation in the classroom, and to explore issues related to the teaching process and the profession. Students will construct a Teaching Licensure Portfolio as well as exchange ideas about their student teaching experiences. Topics including technology, classroom management, special education, and assessment will be featured. The Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities, the five Standards for Vermont Educators, the Principles for Vermont Educators, and ROPA-R will guide the development of the Teacher Licensure Portfolio. (Corequisite: EDST 0405, EDST 0406, EDST 0407 or EDST 0415, EDST 0416 EDST 0417) (Approval required) 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2012, Fall 2013
EDST 0500 - Independent Project ▲
Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015
EDST 1002 - Teaching August Wilson
Make Room: Teaching August Wilson
August Wilson has been hailed as “Theater's Poet of Black America,” yet many students have little exposure to this literary giant. In this course we will explore Wilson’s impressive cycle of 10 plays illustrating 20th century African-American experiences. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to reading, analyzing, and understanding Wilson’s work, exploring such influences as the blues, visual artist Romare Bearden, and playwright/poet Amiri Baraka. We will also use Critical Race Theory as an analytical tool for understanding Wilson’s significance within the larger context of race relations. The course will culminate with workshops at local schools and staged readings of Wilson’s work. ART LIT NOR WTR
Winter 2012, Winter 2015
EDST 1020 - Critical Race Theory/Education
Critical Race: Theory in Education
In 1998 Gloria Ladson-Billings published a landmark piece entitled, “Just what is critical race theory and what is it doing in a nice field like education?” The piece revolutionized the field of education and helped bring an important lens of critique to understanding and working against inequity in schools. In this course we will examine the ways in which critical race theory has been utilized as a lens for interrogating past and current issues of systemic racism and other forms of oppression affecting our schools. We will focus specifically on curricula, funding, desegregation, special education, discipline practices, and federal laws affecting schools. HIS NOR SOC WTR
FYSE 1340 - Race, Class & Educ. Inequality
Race, Class, and Educational Inequality
In this course we will critically examine race and class inequality in education. We will primarily focus on the U.S. education system, paying particular attention to the often-confusing labyrinth that students and families must navigate. Students will be asked to reflect on their own educational path and how their social position has potentially shaped their educational experiences, opportunities, and outcomes. We will engage theatre, hip-hop, and popular media sources to interrogate the ways schools, students, and teachers are portrayed. Finally, we will examine the impact of educational policies on students, families, and teachers. 3 hrs. sem. CW NOR SOC