Faculty & Staff Directory
M.A., Dartmouth College
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Anna Bachman Barter
Language Department Chair, French, Dorm Parent (MacMillan)
Came to Berkshire: 2013
B.A., English and French, College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph, MN)
M.A., Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
M.A., French, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Where does your passion for teaching come from? My first teaching assignment was in France. I had just finished college and had the chance to be an assistante d’anglais at a French high school. I worked with the English teachers and led conversation classes. Little did I realize that I would one day be back in the high school classroom teaching French in the United States! I knew that I wanted to teach when I studied at the College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph, MN). I appreciated the ways in which my professors actively engaged with their students and helped us to navigate life at the same time. Now, as a teacher, I hope to do the same.
What excites you the most about teaching at Berkshire? I think it is important to engage in topics that are relevant to our students, our community, and our world. At the beginning of the calendar year, the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo occurred in Paris. Although the topic was not an initial part of my syllabus, I immediately incorporated the event into class discussion as it gave students a real life context in which we might ask questions and discuss the complexities of such events – all while speaking French. Keeping oneself open to such topics keeps the classroom vibrant.
How do you see yourself preparing the students for school and for life? I try to create a relaxed yet focused environment while always upholding high standards. I expect my students to speak in French throughout the duration of my classes, but I try to implement this immersion approach in such a way that they feel comfortable and willing to take risks. I also believe in a student-centered approach, one that enables students to discover and pursue their academic ambitions through the study of French language, literature, and culture. Whether they attend a theatrical work, research a Francophone novelist, or listen to a lecture on a French-related topic, I want my students to know that they can continue learning beyond the classroom. I do believe that a successful French teacher encourages language students to continue their French studies in college, travel abroad, and pursue careers in the field - these are important indications as to the effectiveness of a teacher and undoubtedly a crucial part of my role – but I am also convinced that a successful teacher helps students to cultivate intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and a strong sense of self, all of which will assist them in whatever endeavor they choose.
What is your favorite tradition at Berkshire? I enjoy preparing for the Language Department’s Oscar Night. It is a time in which the “hidden talents” of my students reveal themselves. This year, for example, my French III class wrote, recorded and choreographed a music video based on Manu Chao’s song, Je ne t’aime plus. It was gratifying to see them all singing and dancing in French without any prompting from me.