We end our mini-series, “Living it: Stories from the Teaching Life” with a laughter and truth-packed episode featuring two of my favorite humans (not to mention educators) in the Jackson Metro Area: Shamia Hopper & Lucy Kaplan. I had the pleasure of working with both of them while at Millsaps College, and I can quite honestly say that both Lucy and Shamia feature the killer mix of being simultaneously (1) real (2) brilliant (3) 100% committed to more equitable spaces for teaching/learning for all youth, and (4) super fun to be around.
Shamia Hopper is a founding fourth grade teacher and grade team leader at Smilow Collegiate. Her passion is teaching black and brown kids that live in low-income areas in our state. After school she runs a vegan meal prep business called Shamia’s Food Diaries (Find her on Instagram). Lucy Kaplan is entering her third year teaching middle school ELA in Jackson, MS. She is passionate about teaching writing, creating an accessible and inclusive classroom, and education policy. After school, she self-publishes her own writing and sings in a punk band. Both have taught for three years which puts them squarely in that sweet spot of “knowing stuff” and “still discovering stuff.”
During our conversation, we discussed:
3:31-5:15: How Lucy’s experience with challenges in her own schooling led her to a career situated in the classroom
8:32- 10:50: Why the best teacher education is steeped in community engagement; Shamia’s story of becoming inspired to educate.
11:20- 14:17: Why Shamia loves math, and when it comes to math instruction, multiple strategies beat out one-size-fits-all recipes.
15:19-18:32: Real talk about what it was like teaching kindergarteners at-home and in-person concurrently during a global pandemic.
18:32-20:03: That oh-so-recognizable-teacher-feeling of “I KNOW THIS COULD BE BETTER!”
22:25-26:33: Stories from Lucy’s first year of teaching seventh grade English: on the feeling of being “coached” and the vital importance of just being yourself as an educator.
28:10-32:04: The most valuable lessons Shamia learned with her five and six year olds first experiencing school in the midst of a pandemic; “it wasn’t me versus them; it was us together.”
33:50-36:55: The time Lucy raced one of her students during recess.
37:05-41:10: Two reflective teaching practices you have to try, courtesy of Lucy: (1) keep a list of something good you observe each day when teaching in tweet form and (2) ask your students for “one piece of advice you’d give youth taking this class next year.”
44:58- 45:33 : Shamia’s final tip, bound to inspire us all: “Do it anyway.”