Shawn-tae Greene (left) and Rachel Rucker (right)
How do you know each other?
We met each other at TEaching Excellence over the summer and are now rooming together in “The Shug” (Sugar Land for all you not in the “cool lingo” loop).
What organization do you work for?
YES Prep Public Schools- Southwest Campus
What grade-level and subject do you teach?
Shawn-tae: 6th Grade, Social Studies
Rachel: 9th Grade Biology, 10th Grade Chemistry
Where did you attend college and in what did you major? List all that apply.
Shawn-tae: I am a proud member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2012. WHOOP! I majored in Marketing and minored in Sociology.
Rachel: I, fortunately, did not go to A&M. Instead, I went to Baylor University, home of the Baylor Bears. SIC ‘EM, class of 2011! I majored in Secondary Life Science Education.
What is the best part of teaching? What is the most difficult part of teaching?
Shawn-tae: I love building relationships with my kids and getting to learn more about their lives, their interests, their motivations, etc. I enjoy taking on the challenge of making connections between my material and events that pertain to their lives.
Rachel: I agree with Shawn-tae. I think a great part about teaching is definitely the potential I have to create in my students a genuine interest in science and learning. It’s an awesome feeling when you make a connection with students and witness them getting hooked into what you’re “dishing out.”
Shawn-tae: I think the most difficult part of teaching is finding that work/life balance. I’m obsessed with my job, so I’m constantly finding things I can do to improve or fine-tune my lessons.
Shawn-tae: For the last six months…my friends and family have definitely taken the back seat!
Rachel: On that note, it’s sometimes difficult trying to get your friends to understand why you’re at school until 10 p.m. on a Thursday night.
Shawn-tae: On a Friday night. Let’s be real. The most entertaining outing I have going on in my life is the bid trip to the ice skating rink next week with 120 sixth graders.
Describe a successful teaching strategy that you use in the classroom. How does this impact your students’ achievement?
Rachel: I’ve found that lessons run a lot more smoothly and are more successful when I can relate pretty high-level material to my students’ everyday lives. The more frequent my biology and chemistry students can make parallels between what they are learning and what they already know, the more “sticky” the new material becomes.
Shawn-tae: Exactly. For example, at the beginning of the year I started this…lie…about how I’m obsessed with Justin Bieber. I’ve had to totally connect all lessons, music rewards, bid trips and homework assignments to my “love” of a teenage heartthrob. My kids get a kick out of seeing Bieber in all their work, and I get a kick out of seeing them fully invested in their work. It really is a sick way of engaging them…it’s like reeling them in.
What 3 words would you use to describe the experience of participating in Teaching Excellence?
Shawn-tae: Selflessness, Optimism, Development
Rachel: Growth, Persistence, Humility
When you are not working on closing the achievement gap, what do you enjoy doing?
Shawn-tae: Uh…I don’t understand the question. J
Rachel: I can speak for Shawn-tae. Lots of Saturdays filled with Friday Night Lights marathons and The X-Factor.
Shawn-tae: No! Don’t say The X-Factor! That’s embarrassing.
Rachel: It’s been getting better. We’ve actually started socializing with people in the outside world.
If you could create a t-shirt with a slogan that represents your philosophy of education, what would it say and why?
Rachel: I have a nice quote… “I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing.” –John Dewey
Rachel: I know.
Shawn-tae: “You can teach a student a lesson for a day, but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” –Clay P. Bedford
Rachel. That’s good.