New Teacher Q & A with Jenni Ho

Q: What are some things your students will be learning in this class?

A: They’ll be learning a lot of vocabulary to enrich their writing. I’d like to bring creativity in, digging deeper into text, learning how to annotate, learning deeper meaning, and learning how to write.


Q: How do you like Bellaire so far?

A: I love it and it’s absolutely great. The community is wonderful, and everyone is so supportive. I really enjoy having my students in my class and the people in the building and just the admins great, the principal is great, my colleagues are great. I really love the atmosphere.

Q: Is this your first-time teaching?

A: This is my first year by myself in a classroom for high school. I used to teach college-level psychology and I did do my student teaching at Lamar High School last year. I used to do workshops and I used to teach other things outside of the class.


Q: What did you teach in the workshops you held?

A: Creative writing such as poetry writing and short story writing.


Q: Did you also teach sophomore aged kids there?

A: I taught a lot of high school aged kids and different levels, but they were mostly around the same age.


Q: What college did you teach at?

A: I taught at HCC.


Q: Did you just teach psychology, or did you also teach English?

A: I just taught psychology. I have a master’s in psychology and then I minored in English.



Q: What made you want to come here [Bellaire] and teach 10thgraders and English 2?

A: I really love this age [the sophomore age]. I just love 15 and 16-year-olds. It’s a wonderful age. Any age is great, but I found myself really enjoying just the sophomore age a lot. I used to do workshops mainly around this age as well, and I guess they just gravitate towards me and vice versa. I feel as if they’re more mature than freshman. Not that freshman aren’t, but they’re coming from so many different places and I feel as if a whole year at school, sophomores are more settled in and they know more of what’s to be done. They’re a little more mature, and I feel as if I can talk to them more. I’m not saying I can relate to them completely, because there’s a lot I can’t relate to, but I’d like to try. Plus, I learn a lot from 15 and 16-year-olds, and hopefully I can influence them as they influence me.


Q: Who inspired you to teach?

A: For [teaching] English, I was inspired by a teacher I had in high school in Hong Kong, Mrs. Whiteside. She was the toughest teacher EVER! Everyone was always scared of her. She was a Scottish lady with really pale skin; always red and flushed, so she looked really scary. But, I guess she was the one to discover that I could write. She gave me confidence in writing, since I was never confident in any subject, even English. She really inspired me. She laid on and said, ‘If you ever write a book, dedicate it to me!’. I never wrote a “book”, but I had a short-story published in Hong Kong. After the story was published, I went back to my old school and she was super proud. As well, growing up, I’ve always wanted to teach something. I’ve always been that little girl who always said, ‘I’m going to play teacher!’ and, you know, teach my sister stuff and pretend to write on a chalkboard.

Q: Earlier, you said that you wrote and published a short story? What was it about?

A: We were given an exercise at HKU (Hong Kong University) on something that bothered you or something that just didn’t feel quite right. For me, the short story starts with, ‘What -ese are you?’. Like, what do you mean ‘what -ese?’. Then the person says, ‘Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese?’ and stuff like that. This was actually something that did happen to me multiple times before. A lot of people don’t know my nationality or ethnicity, so most just ask that. But, that’s what it [the short story] was based on.


Q: What do you like most about English?

A: Definitely the creativity and how fluid it is. There’s no wrong answer and it’s a very personal thing. I feel that once you become creative, it’s very personal and you can express yourself in so many different ways.


Q: Do you incorporate your background in psychology, or anything else, to teach English?

A: Yeah, I use psychology a lot inside the classroom, specifically on how I treat students. For example, the color of the room. I worked really hard on it just so people can feel comfortable and at ease when they come in. I know how a lot of my students’ lives outside of the classroom and school can be very hectic and crazy. I know life’s not easy, but I’d like them to have a place where they feel safe and happy. I enjoy having them in my classroom. I would want to come into a classroom where I feel happy because I spend most of my time there. As well, I do go around and think, ‘Oh, would my class like this?’ and I watch TedTalks and listen to podcasts to learn more about how to instruct kids and incorporate what I watch into teaching.


Q: What do you feel is most important about being a teacher?

A: Definitely building relationships with the students. Every student is unique and an individual, and I just love getting to know each and every one of them. I hope that I can make a difference in their lives one way or another, even in the most tiny, little way.


Q: Anything else you’d like to add about what you’re looking forward to this year?

A: I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone a lot more and help students bring out something that they never knew they had in themselves.