Lisa Barker joined Towson University as Assistant Professor in the Department of Secondary
and Middle School Education in August 2014. She teaches courses on English education
and young adult literature; edits English Journal’s column, “Under Discussion: Teaching Speaking and Listening”; designs research on
how the principles and practices of improvisational theatre can inform the work of
educators; and facilitates workshops on improvisation and creativity for a range of
international corporate clients.
Prior to her work at Towson, Dr. Barker taught at SUNY New Paltz and the Stanford
Teacher Education Program, performed with the Stanford Improvisors and children’s
theatre companies such as Chicago’s Barrel of Monkeys and New York’s Story Pirates,
and founded Stanford’s first children’s repertory theatre company. She also served
as Director of Education for Adventure Stage Chicago and Manager of CUNY Creative
Arts Team’s Center for Educational Drama, where she helped launch the first MA in
Applied Theatre in the US. She began her career as an English, reading, and drama
teacher at James Lick High School in San Jose, CA.
Barker, L. M. (2016). Invoking Viola Spolin: Improvisational theater, side-coaching,
and leading discussion. English Journal, 105(5), 23-28.
Barker, L. M. (2016, April). Listening up: Improvisational theatre as a tool for improving
the leading of whole-class discussion. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the
American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.
Barker, L. M. (2016, April). A self-study of side-coaching: Applying the pedagogy
of improvisational theatre to teacher education. Paper presented at the annual meeting
of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.
Barker, L. M. (2015). Defining ‘participation’: A rubric for assessing discussion
skills. English Journal, 104(5), 110-113.
Barker, L. M. (2015). Care to elaborate: Encouraging students to build on others’
ideas. English Journal, 104(3), 97-100.
Barker, L. M. (2014). Audition notice(d): Taking steps to align mission and admission.
In K. Dawson & D. A. Kelin (Eds.), The reflexive teaching artist: Collected wisdom from the drama/theatre field (pp. 71-77). Wilmington: Intellect.
Alston, C. L., & Barker, L. M. (2014). Reading for teaching: What we notice when we
look at literature. English Journal, 103(4), 64-69.
Barker, L., & Borko, H. (2011). Presence and the art of improvisational teaching.
In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), Structure and improvisation in creative teaching (pp. 279-298). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Alston, C. L., & Barker, L. M. (2014, November). Helping prospective teachers read
for teaching. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers
of English, Washington, DC.
Barker, L. M. (2014, August). Invoking Viola Spolin: Side-coaching in teacher education.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education,
Barker, L. M. (2014, January). The teacher moves that encourage student-student listening.
Paper presented at the National Council of Teachers of English Assembly for Research
Mid-Winter Conference, Elmhurst, IL.
Barker, L. M. (2012, November). Leading a whole-class discussion. Invited talk at
TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan School of Education, Ann Arbor, MI.
Barker, L. M. (2012, April). Supporting teachers’ facilitation of classroom discussion:
Where teacher education and improvisational theatre intersect. Paper presented at
the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, British
Barker, L. M., & Brown, M. (2012, February). Making high-leverage practices in secondary
ELA the focus of methods courses. Invited presentation at the annual meeting of the
American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, Chicago, IL.
Barker, L. M. (2011, February). Beyond Bueller: Improvisational theatre in teachers’
professional learning about discourse facilitation. Paper presented at the Ethnography
in Education Annual Research Forum, Philadelphia, PA.
Barker, L. M. (2010, August). Embracing chaos: Improvisational theatre training for
secondary classroom discussion. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American
Alliance for Theatre and Education, San Francisco, CA.