Every once in a while, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today, we’re catching up with Shalonda Holt ’07, biological sciences, a biology teacher at Centennial High School and the Howard County Teacher of the Year for 2016. She tells us more about her innovative teaching methods and how she decided to enter the education profession below.
You are known for incorporating a flipped classroom model into your teaching. For those who are unfamiliar, what does a flipped classroom look like, and how does a typical lesson work? [In a flipped classroom, students] watch online lectures at home once or twice a week. The videos are five to fifteen minutes long. At school, the class is more student-centered. Students work with their peers to apply the content they learned at home. [In a typical class, students] will have a drill question to answer. During this time, I am collecting and checking the students’ notes from the previous night. Next, we will go over the drill. Since there is no lecture the rest of the class may be a lab, project, discussion, [et cetera]. It just really depends on the day.
How did you decide you wanted to teach? I loved playing “school” when I was a little girl. During my sophomore year at UMBC, I decided that teaching was truly my passion.
How did it feel to be recognized as Howard County Teacher of the Year, and what’s the next step? I was extremely honored because this was based on the recommendation of my colleagues and students. I just felt incredible knowing that I am able to have an impact on people. The next step is to apply for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give an incoming UMBC student? Follow YOUR passion. I knew I had a passion for biology but I felt that everyone wanted me to become a doctor. I quickly realize that was not my dream but that teaching was. As my grandmother always would tell me, you want to find a career that you want, not one that you are forced to have.