Interview With New Dean of Teaching and Learning
by Rebecca Chernick on Monday, September 30th, 2013Ms. Indu Chugani joined the Milton Academy faculty this year as the Dean of Teaching and Learning. The Milton Measure had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Chugani to learn more about her exciting new position.
TMM: The Dean of Teaching and Learning is a new position. What will your job entail?
Ms. Chugani: My job description asks me to lead professional development and professional growth opportunities for Milton faculty. I think that has been happening here for a long time… the faculty had been constantly pursuing professional growth opportunities for themselves, but there has never been someone overseeing professional growth across the board at Milton. I think my job is ensuring that every Milton student can recognize his or her own potential in the classroom, and that his or her learning needs are met. That is what brings my passion to this job—imagining a Milton where every student’s learning needs could be met, because every faculty member had experiences that pushed him or her to do just that.
With whom have you been working—the other deans, faculty, students?
I feel so fortunate to be working with Mr. Ball, Ms. Bonenfant, and Mr. Ruiz. I work mainly with the deans and with faculty, but I have to think of my job as serving students. It is what drives me—knowing that my work will have an impact on student learning. If my job is successful, the work that I do with faculty will improve the way students learn at Milton.
How did you hear about Milton?
I have known about Milton. I taught at Philips Exeter and The Winsor School. I had been doing a lot of work with Winsor faculty on professional growth. The more work I did with faculty and adult learners, the more I realized a) that I loved doing it and that it could improve student learning experiences, and b) that to give faculty the opportunity to become students of their own craft is an incredible gift to give them. While it is distinctly different from working with students, it is still creating structures in which people learn, and that really excited me. I was looking for an opportunity to work with faculty more, and Milton had the job description I had been dreaming of for a long time.
What are your plans for the year?
To learn. To learn as much as I can about what Milton is; how teachers teach and learn here; who Milton students are; what helps them succeed and what gets in the way of that; meet with the department chairs and to understand their goals; observe as many classes as I can. Once I have begun to understand Milton, I have to work with the community to build this role. I am starting something called the “Teaching and Learning Team.” I invited the entire faculty to join this group, and so far I have gotten a really nice response of faculty members who are interested in joining me to generate our vision for professional growth at Milton.
How do you plan on interacting with students?
I am teaching one section of American Literature. I advise freshmen, and .I am teaching one section of Senior Transitions I feel like I just need one opportunity to meet sophomores and I will have some interaction with each class. The students are why I am here. I love working with young people, and that will always be driving the work that I do.
Ms. Chugani has already made an impact on the Milton community. Ms. Bonenfant said, “Having Ms. Chugani at Milton has been wonderful. Her expertise and knowledge in teaching and learning are vast, and the upper school administrative team has had some wonderful conversations that have allowed us to make some plans for working with the faculty. She is thoughtful, patient,  reflective, and she’s genuinely a nice person. I know I’m not alone in being thrilled that she’s here at Milton.”
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