Teacher Feature: Heather Anderson
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Heather Anderson graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2018 with a Master of Science in Teaching, Learning and Leadership, option in curriculum and leadership studies. An eight-year teaching veteran, Anderson currently teaches pre-AP English language arts for ninth grade at Stillwater Junior High School in Stillwater.
How has your OSU degree equipped you for obstacles you face in the classroom?
My graduate classes have been vital in helping me grow as a teacher and curriculum designer. I continually seek to build real-world, relevant and highly engaging learning experiences that allow students to employ the skills they hone outside the classroom. I aim to provide each one of my students with opportunities to utilize their voices to express themselves in a variety of modes. I encourage students to create, critique, perform, analyze and innovate. Because of my experience in the curriculum studies program at OSU, I know that no classroom obstacle is too difficult to overcome given a bit of teacher research and collaboration. This program has provided me with an invaluable network of like-minded, pioneering fellow educators who have given me confidence as a curriculum writer, advocate, researcher and leader. I am truly grateful for the skills I have gained through this program and for the supportive, inspiring faculty and staff who have aided me along the way.
What advice would you give someone who is considering teaching as a profession?
The one piece of advice I have for someone considering a career in teaching is to jump in headfirst. There is not a dull moment in this profession. Each day is an adventure that you get to share with your students. You get to mold their understanding of the world and help them become active participants in making it better. Although the job can get difficult and overwhelming, it’s extremely important to give yourself grace and understand your limitations. Will students remember the stack of papers you didn’t grade 10 years from now? Likely not. However, they will remember the time you invested in making the content relevant for their lives and futures. They will remember the time you checked on them when they were absent a few days. They will remember when you sat down with them and walked them through a concept when they were struggling. They will remember how you made them feel valued, loved, cared for and safe.
What would you share with education policy makers on behalf of your students and your
school given the chance?
The most important thing to know is that my students are not numbers or statistics; they are people. They are human beings with voices and desires to make this world a better place. They are activists, dreamers, creators, innovators and visionaries. If we do not provide them with the resources necessary to thrive in this world, what will our future look like? On behalf of teachers in Oklahoma, I want to encourage education policy makers to step into the classrooms as often as possible. Notice the classrooms crammed with 30 students per hour. Notice the worn out textbooks teachers must utilize. Notice the decorations, the school supplies and the resources teachers have purchased with their own paychecks. Notice the stacks of grading they take home each night and on the weekends. Notice how many micro decisions they have to make on an hourly basis in order to foster the best learning environment for each individual student in their classroom. Notice how they worry about students even after the last bell has rung. Notice how one teacher has the potential to completely change the trajectory of a child’s life. If policy makers step into educators’ shoes, I think they’d realize how desperately teachers need to be valued, encouraged and retained in this state. When teachers are valued, children will reap countless benefits.
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