Fellow Q&A: WW Teaching Fellow Helen Shere
WW Teaching Fellows come from many different backgrounds but are united by a single goal: to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM fields) in some of the nation’s highest-need schools. But what makes these Fellows tick? What inspired them to pursue a career in the classroom? In this WW Perspectives series, we hear from WW Teaching Fellows about what drew them to the program.
Helen Shere was a 2015 WW Indiana Teaching Fellow and is now a biology teacher at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
WW Perspectives: What drew you to teaching?
Helen Shere: I’ve always had a passion for helping other people, and I’ve always loved the life sciences. The opportunity to make a difference in my community by influencing students and preparing them for lifetime success is what, ultimately, led me to pursue classroom teaching. It brings me daily joy to see my students grow into mature young adults and independent thinkers
WW Perspectives: Why did you choose the WW Teaching Fellowship?
Helen Shere: I chose the WW Teaching Fellowship because it offered the most hands-on teacher training of any certification program I saw. I was there on the first day of school as a student teacher, making observations that influenced my teaching practice. The WW Teaching Fellowship also offered world-class faculty who were committed to helping me become the best teacher I could be. Our program director, Deb Sachs (at the University of Indianapolis), constantly modeled best teaching practices, and as an educator, I appreciate the knowledge I was able to glean from her and from the rest of my professors.
WW Perspectives: What do you think was the best preparation that you’ve received for the realities of the classroom?
Helen Shere: In the WW Teaching Fellowship, experience became my best teacher. I began co-teaching in the classroom during the fall semester, and by January, I was fully in charge of several class periods. Getting in front of my students and delivering the lessons that I designed was, ultimately, the best preparation for the realities of classroom teaching. This experience allowed me to “fail faster,” so that I could “succeed sooner” (a phrase that became our cohort’s motto!).
WW Perspectives: What matters most to you about the students you work with?
Helen Shere: What matter the most to me about my students is their future success. My school, Shortridge High School, is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and we focus on building up our students’ learning, emotional, and interpersonal skills in addition to teaching them the content of their coursework. I believe that as an educator, my job is to teach my students not only the facts of biology, but the thinking processes, study skills, and confidence that they need in order to do well when they graduate from high school.
WW Perspectives: What’s the most rewarding part of the program so far for you?
Helen Shere: The most rewarding part of the program is the community of teachers that you join when you become a WW Teaching Fellow. Since day one of the program, I have had the opportunity to connect with incredible classroom teachers, administrators, and professors who have enhanced my teaching practice with their advice. WW Teaching Fellows form a network of support, friendship, and warmth that has been invaluable in the past few years. I was even able to connect with a WW Fellow from the previous year’s cohort when the position at my school opened up!
WW Perspectives: What would you say to someone who’s considering becoming a WW Teaching Fellow?
Helen Shere: If teaching is your calling, then the WW Teaching Fellowship is here to prepare you to be a dynamic educator. While it’s not an easy task, teaching is one of the most worthwhile endeavors you will ever pursue—and the WW program gives you the support you need to become an effective teacher. If you’re committed to influencing young people in your community, this is the program for you.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.