Q&A: Mrs. Janette Snelson, English

Ms.+Janette+Snelson%2C+English%2C+poses+in+her+classroom.+Ms.+Snelson+was+selected+to+present+two+papers+at+the+National+Council+of+Teachers+of+English.

Ms. Janette Snelson, English, poses in her classroom. Ms. Snelson was selected to present two papers at the National Council of Teachers of English.

Sarah Bredar

Q: Why did you become an English teacher?

A: Being a teacher is a second career for me, I have a degree in Fashion Merchandising and I worked [in] retail. I started off in Visual Merchandising and that was right when the economy was really bad, and I just wasn’t loving it. I wanted to have a fuller life I guess. I always loved reading [and] I always loved [my] English classes. I had a professor in college that was just phenomenal and very encouraging, so I decided to go back and get a second bachelor’s degree in English. I became a teacher and I fell in love with it.

Q: When did you first start teaching at Lake Central?

A: This is my first year here [and] I love it. I was super intimidated the first day because this school is huge, it’s bigger than my college, Purdue [University] Calumet, [was]. Now that I don’t get lost coming from the office to my classroom, I feel really comfortable. It seems like a big happy family and I’m not used to an environment like that, [so] that’s something that’s nice to be part of. I feel very lucky.

Q: What is the National Council of Teachers of English?

A: Most teaching professions [like] English and Science have a professional organization. National Council of Teachers of English, abbreviated NCTE, is ours. You don’t have to be a member of it to be an English teacher, it’s an option. You pay a membership fee and every year you get a calendar or a magazine and online sources, if you need [them]. Every year they have a big convention, and every other year it’s either in [the] Midwest or on one of the coasts.

Q: How did you become involved with this organization?

A: I joined [NCTE] when I was still in college. I had a professor who is still very active in the organization, and so he really encouraged all of us to join up and to stay active in the new trends in our field. I had a group of friends that spoke last year [and] one of their papers got selected to be presented. They talked about how fun and what a great experience it was, so this year we put our heads together to come up with something that would be really great to present. The two people I am presenting with, one is an elementary school teacher and [the other] is a middle school teacher, already had an idea of something that we all do in our classrooms. I’m kind of the high school voice of the process and the idea.

Q: Where is this conference going to be and what will you be doing while you’re there?

A: [The conference is in] Minneapolis, Minn. I’m presenting two papers. The first presentation I am part of is a 90-minute roundtable. It’s kind of what I am referring to as the ‘Big One’, it’s the big presentation. Later on in the convention, we are presenting at a sub-conference of the [NCTE] conference, called the ALAN, and that’s the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. That’s a different presentation where we [will be] talking about creating a community of readers and talking about reading for fun in our classrooms and stuff like that.

Q: How has being involved in the NCTE changed your view on being an English teacher?

A: It gives me ideas and a life outside of my own classroom. Teaching is this weird thing where yes, we all work as a community, but I haven’t really seen any of my colleagues teach, especially since this is my first year here. It’s really cool to have a huge group of thousands and thousands of English teachers together, hearing their ideas and seeing what works for them or what didn’t. Without the NCTE, I wouldn’t be able to find that stuff out.

Q: Has this experience affected your performance and attitude in the classroom?

A: It really helps me put a positive spin on things. Sometimes I’ll try something in my classroom or I’ll be teaching something that maybe I’m having difficulty with [but I never worry because] I can always reach out through online communities or through the convention and find other teachers who are doing something differently and try what they’re doing. In this situation, since I’m presenting this year, [other teachers] can try the things that I did and that’s really neat. It’s always really cool to go to a convention like this and represent Lake Central, [because] you don’t get the opportunity to do that all of the time.