Teacher Feature: Ms. Shaffer

Anijah Perry, Writer

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I had the opportunity of interviewing one of Obama’s teachers, Ms. Shaffer. She teaches both middle and high school Spanish. This interview happened in her classroom during the school’s QRT (Quality Reading Time) period. Looking around her classroom she doesn’t have a lot of posters, she leaves them bare so she can put the work of her students.

AP: How long have you been teaching?

MS: Fourteen years.

AP: How has it been teaching high school?

MS: Oh, I like high school. I like teaching high school.

AP: How is teaching high school any different from teaching middle school?

MS: High schoolers are different, you know? High schoolers are a lot different and are a lot more mature. Middle schoolers require a completely different way of talking to them. And I’m actually not super good at that, because as you know, I’m super sarcastic.

AP: What made you want to teach high school?

MS: I actually thought I wanted to teach elementary school for a while. And then I had to decide because it was going to take me more than four years to graduate, because I wanted to teach Spanish too. So, if I taught Spanish and had to teach elementary school, it was going to take me more than four years to graduate. So, I had to choose and my mom said if you teach elementary school it’s like being a mom, but if you teach high school than you teach a subject. I thought I wanted to teach a subject.

AP: How is your work environment?

MS: It’s very different than being in an office environment. In an office environment you’re with adults all day. And you’re not necessarily with adults all day, which is a good and bad thing. It’s very unique.

AP: How much time do you spend grading assignments and making lesson plans, every week?

MS: That depends on what we’re doing. Like this week it wasn’t too, too much on either one. Like next week when you guys are all doing your presentations, that’s going to take a lot to grade. Something that’s written, like when you guys do an essay or something like that. I’ll read those about twice each to see and to make sure that you guys get the right grade. So that takes a long time. When we’re doing something that’s speaking- remember, we’re doing a two minute speaking thing plus questions, which is probably about three minutes per person. So I’m going to listen to all of those at least twice. That’s why it takes so long to get stuff back because it takes me a long time to do it. Whereas this week we didn’t have any tests, we didn’t have any essays. It’s just like grade some homework assignments, those were pretty quick.

AP: Is it easy balancing your work life from your personal life?

MS: Yeah, now it is. It wasn’t at first. Part of it is just that I have stuff already built up. Like now if I need a PowerPoint, I can just look at the PowerPoint I did last year, tweak it and I can use it again. Because when you first start everything you do is new and you have to create so much stuff. So, it gets easier the longer you’ve been doing it.

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