LILIA HERNANDEZ 

1st Grade Self-Contained | Sivells Elementary | Wharton ISD

Charles Butt Scholar Alum, University of Houston

As the 2020-21 school year came to an end, ten Charles Butt Scholar alumni in their first years as Texas teachers shared their learnings and reflections with us. The stories, struggles, and triumphs showcased in this Q&A portfolio provide an honest look at what it’s like to be a new teacher.

Q What is something you’ve learned from a student this year?

A To meet each child where they are. Beginning my journey as a new teacher, I had a vision of coming in with all students performing perfectly at grade level. I learned very quickly that is not always true. Taking a step back and allowing the students to show me where they were in their subject mastery was the biggest lesson that I took away from my students this year. In so many ways, I was able to help not only the students grow, but I grew also. I watched different students grow in different ways all because I was able to meet them where they were.

Q What was a challenge you faced this school year and how did you overcome it?

A My biggest challenge was learning how to work with a variety of personalities. I became a public educator to be a voice for our youth, but that meant I needed to keep my own voice and stay true to myself. I actually looked back to our Raise Your Hand Texas Charles Butt Scholars’ Symposium from summer of 2019, where I attended a breakout session on how to effectively engage with different personality types in the workplace. I went back and really reflected on that exercise.

Q What have you seen over the course of this school year that gives you hope/optimism about Texas public schools?

A Throughout this year I have met some wonderful educators who are so excited to be teaching despite struggles this school year. I have watched students come to school daily ready to learn and eager to socialize not only face-to-face but also virtually. I have met the best parents who have been so supportive and involved with their children’s education through phone calls and text messages. All of us have the same goal – the children’s success – and want to be on the same team to ensure it. All these insights have contributed to me being hopeful for public education and clear in my purpose as a teacher. At the end of the day we all want the same thing – our students to succeed.

Q What did you learn from your teacher preparation program that helped prepare you for this past year, and knowing what you know now, what do you wish you had learned to be better prepared?

A I felt extremely prepared due to the full year of student teaching and incredible mentors that Lamar CISD gave me. I had one of the strongest site coordinators, Irma Nurre, who taught me so much of real-world public education expectations. She continued to guide me after I graduated and transitioned into teaching. One thing she told me that I will forever remember was that every child in my classroom is somebody’s baby and I should treat every child as if they were mine. My strongest attribute this year was the relationships that I built with my students and parents thanks to Irma Nurre’s advice.

Q What is a practice/strategy you will take from your teaching experience during COVID and integrate into future (non-COVID) years?

A I will continue to integrate technology in my classroom with blended learning. Teaching students how to navigate various online learning platforms that were used throughout COVID created a new type of learning and engagement within my room that I will continue to use in the future.

Q What advice or encouragement do you have for teachers starting their careers in the 2021-22 school year?

A Not every school will be a fit, so take your time and research your choices before you decide where you want to call home. Finding the right school or position may take a few tries, but knowing what you don’t want can help you get closer to what you do.

It might sound hard hearing “slow down” but I promise and I beg you, “slow down” regardless of how anxious you are to get in your own classroom.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does that school share the same vision as you do?
  • What does the school stand for? Do you stand for the same thing?
  • Can you grow at that school?
  • What support will they provide you with? Remember you will be new, you need support.

And last, go on a search and look at their social media. Research the other teachers. Do y’all share the same likes? Personality? Can you envision yourself as a member of that school?

NextPrevious