Katie HopperMiddle School English Teacher
At WES Since: 2011
What motivated you to become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I wanted to be surrounded by people eager to learn: to explore new ideas, to learn new skills, to ask questions, and to be surprised. Pairing this desire with teaching English, particularly to Middle School students, seemed perfect. In the process of offering students new texts to read and explore is exciting, as you search endlessly for the perfect way to engage them or the book that will finally grab them. As an obsessive reader, I know the joy of finding a book that speaks to you or helps you to discover something new. Being able to help students at an age when they are searching and exploring their identities to find books that resonate for them is priceless. Teaching writing has similar rewards, as you give them them the opportunities and the tools to express their own thoughts. I have been allowed to read such personal, powerful work by people who have only lived twelve to fourteen years. I am so grateful. My goals as a teacher include always being open to new ideas, learning from the people that I teach, and pushing myself to explore new ways of engaging my students.
What excites you about teaching Middle School language arts?
Middle School students are struggling to form their identities amidst a complex, fast-moving world. Surrounding them with literature gives them the opportunity to listen to other voices confronting the same struggles within the safety of a well-crafted story. Giving students the tools for examining and questioning text allows them to expand their thinking and to make intelligent decisions. Teaching them how to write gives students the opportunity to develop and share their own voice. To be a part of this process is priceless.
How has teaching language arts changed with the advances in digital media and digital tools like google docs?
Has it really changed? Students still use language to express, to expand, to organize, to craft, and to share their ideas. Technology gives them new formats within which to do this. Perhaps, what has changed is access. Students have greater and speedier access to all manner of text. Likewise, students can share their own products with a far greater audience, giving them more expansive audiences. Finally, students have more options for exploring text and for crafting their own “writing.”
I have been been teaching Middle School English for over 20 years and still love it. When not reading, I love running, practicing yoga, caring for my plants, and spending time with my two children, both of whom are also educators.
2019 Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year recipient from Maryland Humanities