CLARISSA RODRIGUEZ 

1st Grade Teacher | Treasure Hills Elementary | Harlingen CISD

Charles Butt Scholar Alum, UT Rio Grande Valley

What does your teaching life look like right now, and how are you handling it?

I teach a hybrid model at Harlingen CISD. I have students who come into my classroom and students who learn remotely. Teaching life looks like carrying the weight that children face at home and making sure their learning goals are being met. Teaching life entails long hours of contacting parents, following CDC guidelines, being the students’ strongest support system, and building relationships. As an educator, I extend myself beyond the classroom environment. Teaching life entails being the students’ mentor, counselor, parent, supporter, as well as their teacher. It’s balancing lesson planning, teaching, and making sure the students have everything they need to become successful.

What should Texans know about what is happening currently in public schools?

Texans should know that public school education is so valued and so needed in times like now. In public schools, there are countless school staff who work day in and out trying to provide a stronger education and to keep the students safe and healthy. Texans should be aware that education and school for many students is their safe place. As different as this new normal will be, teachers strive to create a welcoming environment that welcomes all students and celebrates each other’s differences.

How has your education prepared you for this moment?

My education has prepared me for knowing how to adapt to change. This year definitely has its own set of unique challenges- but I am so thankful my education played a role into becoming the educator I am today. As I am going through uncertain times as a first-year teacher, I understand the value and importance of education. I understand that for many of my students, I need to be their strongest support system. I know I need to become the teacher I always needed growing up.

What is one way you’ve supported your students recently?

One way I have recently supported my students is by making learning engaging. Whether my remote students see confetti on the screen or they kiss their brain- I want them to know that the effort they put in every day is noticed. For my students in class, taking the time to differentiate instruction, incorporating students’ interests, backgrounds, cultures, has made all the difference.

Given the good, bad, and ugly of 2020-21, what do you love about teaching right now?

I LOVE everything about teaching. I know there are challenges along the way, but the light bulb moments and the smiles I receive every day are worth it to me. In this face of adversity, it’s so important as educators, we convey through our actions how students should feel about their surroundings and the state of our new normal. There is nothing I can see myself doing than teaching. The relationships and lightbulb moments every day keep me going- even on the most difficult days.

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