Mr Craig Divis is a social studies teacher at Bremerton High School, Washington. Previously, he had been teaching World Cultures, World History II, AP European History, and Senior Seminar at Bellows Falls Union High School for 13 years. He also heads the school’s social studies department. While teaching at Bellows Falls, he was also serving at the University of Vermont as a director, coordinating programmes and leading selected state-wide high school students through China every summer in an educational programme devoted to the study of Asian cultures.
Mr Divis has conducted workshops at the state, national, and international levels, such as at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference, the National Council for History Education (NCHE) conference, and the South African Society for History Teaching (SASHT) conference. He was honoured as the 2010 Vermont Teacher of the Year, and was also recognised as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher, which provided him an opportunity to study and to do research in South Africa in 2011 and 2012. In 2014, he was also awarded the Stanford University’s Exceptional Teaching Award.
During his stint with AST, he conducted four Master Classes for over 200 secondary social studies teachers. His Master Class titled ‘Activating Authentic Student Voice in the Social Studies Classroom’ provided the social studies teachers with hands-on experience for them to learn practical classroom teaching actions that could help them enhance the quality of teaching and learning. Teaching actions that allowed for the activation for the students’ voice such as Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) and Fishbowl were introduced. Mr Divis led teachers in a conversation on formative assessment options such as Vox Pop, Public Service Announcement and Political Cartoons. Mr Divis believes that these teaching actions would better encourage students to share their perspectives in the social studies classroom, as well as help to strengthen their critical thinking skills.
Mr Divis had the opportunity to visit four schools: Tanglin Secondary School, Yishun Town Secondary School, Hua Yi Secondary School and Dunman High School, where he observed how secondary social studies was taught in the Singapore context. He was heartened to learn that our teachers and schools focus on providing students with the opportunity to voice their opinions and to explore different perspectives. After every lesson he observed of our social studies teachers in action, Mr Divis engaged in a dialogue with them to better understand their considerations in planning the lesson for the students, and offered feedback on how he viewed their lessons. He also had the opportunity to teach a Secondary 3 Normal Academic (NA) class where he demonstrated how SAC could be carried out.
Mr Divis found Singapore teachers to be very engaging in the classrooms, possessing a positive attitude towards improving their own professional practice, and having the desire to do the very best for their students. He was also impressed with our schools’ well-designed infrastructure and facilities, such as the eco-gardens and dedicated learning spaces, which provide a conducive learning environment for our students.
During his stint, Mr Divis also participated in dialogue sessions with NIE, CPDD, and social studies HODs and Teacher Leaders. The discussions were rich and covered topics such as the revised social studies syllabus, the teachers’ mind-set in the subject and assessment practices. On top of these, Mr Divis was also involved in the social studies LT-ST networking session, where he interacted with our Teacher Leaders and exchanged teaching ideas with them.
Mr Divis was very generous in sharing his resources and teaching actions with our teachers during his two-and-a-half week stint in Singapore. Our teachers and officers are truly appreciative that they have had the pleasure of working and interacting with him through this OEIR programme.