LILIA HERNANDEZ 

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

Charles Butt Scholar Alum, University of Houston

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

It’s very overwhelming as a first-year teacher. It has been a roller coaster beginning as a virtual teacher, then transitioning to both virtual and face to face students, and now as a face to face teacher with 19 students. We are all learning together, but I’m missing out on all my “first-year” moments. I’m extra excited to be in a classroom but very cautious with precautions for COVID. I bought an air purifier and have become a professional sanitizer.

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

It’s a lot of work and then some more. I work endless hours trying to mold my classroom life around COVID.

Can you share one recent moment or memory that encapsulates your experience or communicates what is most meaningful about your job right now?

I began to doubt myself as an effective teacher. I have worked endlessly to ensure I’m prepared and I sometimes feel it’s not good enough. At the beginning of the school year, my kids were not grasping all of the concepts I wanted them to grasp. I was pushing, pushing, pushing, but I felt we were not getting anywhere. Just recently, I’ve started to see positive results. My students’ growth was such a bittersweet moment! I finally felt my “why.” I have never felt it the way I did when I saw my students’ growth! My students’ success is the most meaningful part of my job right now.

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

I go over and beyond daily. I send home games, I get ready for them to reinforce skills, I celebrate daily with them, I encourage them, and the list continues. Something that I do is write feedback on EVERYTHING – sounds small, but it is time-consuming. I want them to feel their work is important and valid. Even if it’s a happy face, they love it!

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

My students’ faces in the mornings when they see me standing at our door to greet them. Their eyes light up with a big smile to see me.

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