Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week | Shena Anderson

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week!!! I just want to show love to all the teachers out there giving their all and pouring into our kids. It's a tough job and they are under-appreciated...and often underpaid. These teachers work HARD and they play a very vital role in society. THANK YOU ALL!!!!!


W&I: What grade and subject(s) do you teach?

Shena: 10th grade English 

W&I: What made you want to be a teacher?

Shena: The funny thing is that I didn't always know that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was little, I enjoyed playing office in my room, pretending to be a girl superhero (using bed posts as my weapons), and playing with dolls like most girls. However, I did find myself playing school in my room by myself with my favorite stuffed animals. I would line my stuffed animals up and use my wood closet door as my chalkboard (literally writing on the closet with chalk) and speak about some subject that I learned in school. It wasn't until my senior year that I had an English teacher who began to plant a seed about how literature is an expression of humanity and how it links us with various cultures. It transformed how I approached reading and began to look for meaning in it regardless of the story told. I then took that seed to college  and watched how my professors took seemingly irrelevant literature such as Shakespeare and Romantic poetry to create an awakening in young adult minds. I knew then that I wanted to be the facilitator of such an exchange process.

W&I: What are the joys of being a teacher?

Shena: I find several joys to teaching despite (fill in the blank of whatever thecurrent issue in education is at the moment) :) I truly enjoy being around teenagers and seeing them learn and grow. I have worked with troubled kids from many different situations from poor academics, low income, lack of a parent, latchkey, emotionally disturbed, and just plain teenagers of the technology era. I revel in seeing them begin their school year with minimal work ethic, lack of effective reading or writing skills and leave my classroom with such a huge stride in any of those areas. I love to see their self confidence increase because they learned how to succeed at something they tried in for that year and it literally fills my heart. There have been times where I was down for whatever reason and their simple presence, joke, reflection, etc. lifted my spirit. I actually find strength in some of my kids because I watch what they experience on the daily as a young person and they still find the perserverance to maintain in a bully filled environment where fights occur on an almost weekly basis.

W&I: The struggles?

Shena: The struggles I have personally consist of overcrowded classrooms, overwhelming paperwork, and lack of parent involvement. To begin, my school, like many others, are overcrowded because the county is unable to hire more teachers due to budget cuts. This makes it difficult to maintain effective classroom management because the students are packed in a classroom almost like a sardine can. This can also be frustrating when you want to do certain activities with your students to enhance their learning but an overcrowded room can pose difficulties in doing those activities because there is no space. Furthermore, this also produces an exorbitant amount of papers to grade (especially English) because you want to provide feedback and give them papers in a timely mannner so they can process what they have learned. This may not always be feasible because you have roughly 90-160 kids that you teach (depending upon if you are on a block schedule or not). Lastly, I do wish that parents were able to keep track of their child's work habits at home more and discipline them. At times, parents at the high school level have this expectation that teachers are to call them for every single thing their child does not turn in; at this level we have to teach them to be more autonomous and responsible so they can be successful on their own. Therefore, if parents were able to take more time with their children, they would be aware of what their child is doing as opposed to solely depending upon the teacher to tell them everything.

W&I: What keeps you going?

Shena: The first thing that keeps me going in what I do is that I know God has led me to this position for a reason. There are times when a lesson did not go as successful as I had wanted or my students did not achieve the way I anticipated, but I remember that this is where God wants and needs me to be due to the several other successes I have in addition to how my students respond to me when it's all said and done. The last thing that keeps me going is at the end of the school year, I have never had a class that has not gained something from being in the classroom with me for 10 months so I figure, I'm supposed to be here.

W&I: Any words of wisdom/encouragement for teachers that may just be starting out or having a hard time?

Shena: Some advice I would give to new teachers is to definitely know who you are who you want to be in the classroom. It is critical to have a strong presence in the classroom as a high school teacher. Often new teachers focus more on the type of instruction they will offer their students believing that alone will get their students to be engaged. I have found that to be a misconception because you have to get their attention as a person first for them to appreciate the knowledge you have to offer. I would also say to be as consistent as possible to establish the expectation or routine of your classroom so they clearly know what to do.

W&I: What changes would you like to see in the education system?

Shena: Simply put, I wish the education system was more of a priority in the world of politics and that they truly cared more about the permeating disparity that exists for our kids where it actually moves them to make real changes.

W&I: How can we, as a community, help to keep our kids motivated and excited about education?

Shena: I think the community as a whole can help motivate kids about education by setting examples and exposing our kids to the value and importance of learning first. It takes more than just saying "you need an education to get a good job." I think it needs to become a part of our culture again for kids to truly take in that education of any kind is the key to life. We need to expose them to museums, colleges, libraries, and people who also share this value system. Kids always see the easy way to the top because of what we allow them to immerse themselves into such as television, music, internet, etc. and these mediums do not consistently reflect the value of education. It seems that kids don't like to learn unless it's what they want because they are unable to see the connection of why it matters. I think if we as adults were not as close minded in what we like to learn and helped connect the dots for our kids then maybe they would have a more clear idea of learning being an integral tool used in life.

W&IThanks for doing the interview Shena! It was very insightful and inspirational. That's my AP :)!!!! (Accountability Partner) Love her to death. 


  1. Loved this! Feel the same way (no ELA bias lol)..Shannon I have yet to invest in an "AP" lol. One

  2. I really enjoyed this interview ladies!!