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Developing Classroom Culture

Ellen WilliamsRaised in the small town of Fountain Green, Utah, Ellen Williams was deeply in infuenced by Joseph R. Christiansen, her fifth and sixth-grade teacher. Mr. Christiansen had that special touch of challenging his students academically and maintaining a classroom culture that supported high levels of learning. During those two years she developed a love for reading and became a voracious reader. Under his tutelage she thrived academically and personally.

When she became a teacher, Williams wanted to have the same in influence on her students. She earned her associate’s degree from Snow College, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Utah State University, and her EdD from Brigham Young University. Williams’ goal was to develop a classroom culture that supported high levels of learning. She wanted to teach and help students internalize habits that contributed to effective lifelong learning and self-management. She supported her students as they met their academic potential.

Over the course of her teaching career, Williams developed expertise in classroom management, literacy, questioning for high-order thinking, and gifted education. She loved her students and found ways to help them thrive academically and emotionally. With her colleague, Abel Gudmundsen, Williams published a book on classroom management, You Can Control Your Classroom.

As a principal and district administrator in Utah’s Granite School District, Williams viewed her role as an instructional leader. She promoted teacher growth on behalf of increasing student learning and development. While a member of the faculty in the McKay School Educational Leadership and Foundations Department from 2000 to 2011, she taught two courses in instructional leadership: Supervision as a Developmental Process and Curriculum. Working collaboratively with Myra Tollestrup and Joe Matthews, Williams co-established and codirected the BYU Principals Academy, a study of Leadership for Professional Learning Communities.

Now retired, Williams realizes that each phase of her career prepared her for the next phase, including retirement. Well, not quite retirement, but a phase Williams said is filled with joy and stimulating ideas. She now serves as an educational consultant, providing professional development in classroom management for active engaged learning, effective instruction, collaborative practices that promote high student learning, and coaching/consulting. She works on-site to meta-coach principals and instructional coaches. She is a partner in ObserverTab, LLC, a web-based business that promotes continuous teacher growth through the process of principals and coaches collecting strategic observation data and conducting dialogues with teachers to help them gain insights into their practice.

Williams and her husband of 40 years pursue many interests, including road and mountain bikes and scenic photography. They have traveled extensively both nationally and internationally. They just love hanging around together, wherever that is.

An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Williams has and continues to serve in any position to which she is called.