Shauna Hawes, one of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Teachers of the Year, has been named a Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year.
Hawes teaches computer applications/ technology to grades 6-8 at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill. She has been with Mt. Diablo Unified her entire 18-year teaching career.
We asked her to answer a few questions about her career and about what makes magic in the classroom.
How long have you been teaching? And where have you taught?
This is year #19 in MDUSD. I taught 5th grade at Hidden Valley for nine years, then came to Valley View.
What drew you to the field?
I was volunteering at my children’s school when they were very young, and just loved being with the students and watching them be motivated by technology. I started working there, and ultimately decided to go into the classroom.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
I get to push my students to do things they would never have dreamed they could do. I get to think of an idea that sounds fun to me and watch them explode it into something utterly amazing. I watch students who would never pick up a book by choice read manuals to the cameras so they can become experts. I get to watch their confidence grow in their abilities to do awesome work, and they are often very proud of themselves in here.
How did you feel about being named a County Teacher of the Year?
It’s a tremendous honor to be named the District Teacher of the Year, and overwhelming to be a County Teacher of the Year. The reality of it all is that it doesn’t change who I am in the classroom. The students won’t suddenly be quieter or more respectful because a “Teacher of the Year” is in the room! However, it does allow me to reach out on behalf of my students and potentially bring more to them with special visitors, cool tools, and more. For that I am grateful!
Describe a recent ‘a-ha’ moment where you saw a student make a connection to his/her classroom learning experience?
Even as I write this, a student named Jack has just jumped up to announce he made a square using the programming language we’re teaching. My days are filled with those moments.
What is a recent ‘a-ha’ moment of your own?
I have them all the time! Sometimes it’s an insight into a student’s experience, and other times it’s an idea for a new lesson or a solution to a problem.
How have you seen the teaching career influenced by technology? How has technology enhanced the teaching and learning experience?
I first became enamored of technology enhancing education when I watched my kindergarten-age son and his friend work together to play reading games and to solve logic games. Over the years, I saw that students were excited by the opportunities technology could provide. As a teacher, I could easily create and modify assignments for my students. In the mid-2000s, I suddenly saw a way to interact with students online, where they could publish for our class to see and I could make comments. Now I write a daily agenda using Google Classroom, and students have access to it from home and school. Absent students are expected to at least read the agenda from home so that they can either do the assigned work or be prepared to do it when they return.
What are some of the more recent technical innovations/tools you’ve added to your classroom? How are students using these tools/programs?
Last year, I “met” a teacher online who made some how-to videos related to 3-D design. He invited me to come up with a project, and he would create the instructional videos for it. The students designed boxes with lids with messages and graphics on the top. They were really proud of their work, and incredibly disappointed when we had technical difficulties. My newest toy is the laser cutter/engraver. My 6th graders are making leather bracelets and my 7th & 8th graders are making engraved name art projects.
What are areas you want to delve into as a teacher to push yourself in the next year or so?
I recently earned my Industrial Tech Ed credential, and with the laser, am frantically learning about materials. So I am learning about plastics, wood, and many more materials that I never, never imagined I would ever even care about learning! I will continue to learn to use calipers and tools I have never even heard of before!
Anything else you’d like to have people know about you?
I make my lesson plans around how I think I would have felt about a lesson. (I did this when teaching other subjects too.) I thought that if I would have thought something was boring, my students would also agree. I love finding new ways to teach “old” stuff.
What is something that may surprise people about you?
The year I started teaching, we adopted two children with many challenges bringing the number of our children to four. We’ve run the gamut of college prep to special education to mental health support to adoption services.
Congratulations on being named Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year!