Classroom Spotlight: The Spectacular Sanders

By: Nadya DeFreitas

Ms. Sanders is one of the many Shorecrest teachers who students can’t wait to have. Let’s find out what makes her classes fun and educational for students. To start off, Ms. Sanders teachers, not 1 but 4 classes, leaving her with hardly any planning periods. Despite this, she still manages to put aside extra time to meet with students and help them with their writing and projects. Her dedication to helping students is what makes her many students favorite teacher. 

For this month’s Classroom Spotlight, we will only be focusing on her Honors and Regular American English Classes. We at Shorecrest are well known for our outstanding English Department, with Miss Sanders greatly contributing to it. According to Kendall Farley, “She has a different style of teaching that helps everyone comprehend what she’s teaching.” Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for her “different teaching style” is the way she prepares her students for timed essays; she uses a “game” called Hot Seat. Miss Sanders starts the game off by pulling four names from a jar. The first three she chooses are in the “Hot Seat” with her and the fourth becomes the Scribe. Once everyone is in the Hot Seat, Ms. Sanders chooses one of the poems that she gave the class in advance to read and asks them to walk her through a full annotation of the poem. After 10 minutes have passed, time is called, prompting the scariest part —the grading system! Each group starts off with 10 points- 10 points for 10 minutes. Once the Scribe finishes writing down every annotation that the group in the “Hot Seat” said, the class will have the opportunity to add things that they think the group missed. For everything they add, the group loses one point. To keep the class from staying silent and to inform the group upon what they miss, there is one last rule. Once the whole class has gotten a chance to add their corrections, Miss Sanders gets to go. If Miss Sanders finds something wrong, instead of losing 1 point, they lose two. DUN-DUN-DUN!!! I’m kidding; it’s not that scary; in fact, Miss Sanders has even said that a decent portion of her students do fairly well on this project. Nevertheless, it’s not a class favorite. Although, after interviewing Miss Sanders, I think it should be. You see, this game was designed to not only help her students learn how to do proper annotations but also to “get them used to being timed”- Miss Sanders. It is well known that in higher level classes, timed essays are extremely common and Miss Sanders wants to make it so that her students are well prepared before they get thrown into the deep end of the writing pool. One student said, “While right now Hot Seat may not be my favorite, I can see my progress from the beginning of the year, and I now feel a lot more confident in timed situations.” But for those of you who are still quite not there, don’t worry we got some tips/tricks from the Hot Seat Queen herself. 

1) Don’t be afraid to share information. Get together with a group of people who also did the annotations before the class where you know you’re going to be in the “Hot Seat” and compare annotations to see if your missing anything

2) Come in and talk to me. If you have any questions about any of the poems come in ahead of time and I can help walk you through them.

3) Give yourself some time- Try to read the articles ahead of time so you aren’t cramming them all in the day before this will make the whole process a lot easier.

From this burning hot topic, we move on to one of her other critically acclaimed teaching styles — the I Am Lit project. For this project, students get together in groups of 2-3 and choose a longstanding American political issue and create a piece of art that reflects the nuances or tensions involved in its discourse. This project is truly amazing because it gives the students a chance to take the reigns. In fact, she said that, “for this project I kind of let the students loose, they can choose whatever they want to research and then they come to me to get it approved. Then from there I try to help guide them along”. This idea of not restraining her students is something that Sanders is known for. Many students I interviewed, in particular Kirsten Price, commented on this attribute of her class; however, Kirsten, a member of her Honors American Literature Class, said it best when she said, “I am never afraid to speak up in her class.” Ms. Sanders fosters an atmosphere where students can feel like they have a voice while also helping her students to become the best writers they can be. For these reasons she was this month’s Classroom Spotlight.

Some additional feedback I got from students was that.. 

“I love her energy and just the way she teaches in general.” 

Rod Casteel

“She’s my favorite teacher, I always look forward to her class.”

Kendall Farley

“Miss Sanders is so passionate about English, that made me enjoy the subject even more… and she taught me writing skills that I will use in college.”

Mary Lewis

In general, Miss Sanders is a well loved teacher at Shorecrest and we were lucky to have her as part of our faculty. Sadly but also happily, Miss Sanders announced that she will be leaving Shorecrest after this school year to get her PhD. She has been a pivotal point in Voices Publications and we will miss her but all look forward to her following her dreams.

Thank you Miss Sanders!

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