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 does teaching and learning look like right now in your classroom?
A Patience is the magic word right now; I need patience for and from my paraprofessionals, and the same goes for my students. It looks like trying again and again. It looks like routines, curiosity, and lots of love.
Q What is something you’ve learned from a student this year?
A I’ve learned that the time spent creating a relationship with the student, learning what really makes him or her tick, is the most important thing you can do in a classroom.
Q What have you seen over the course of this school year that gives you hope/optimism about Texas public schools?
A Unity. I have seen individuals from all levels in the district step into each others’ shoes and fill in the gaps. These individuals have gone above and beyond developing new ways to reach students, families, and each other. We all have the same common goal which is the academic success and overall well-being of our students. I have seen students advocated for like none other. I have seen that extra phone call made. I have seen hours and hours of overtime creating special materials to send home. I have seen grace. Through the struggle, we have learned to work together to make things happen and now it’s time to use that to grow so much stronger when the struggles subside.
Q What advice or encouragement do you have for teachers starting their careers in the 2021-22 school year?
A My advice for a new teacher would be to practice positive intent. Assume that people mean the best even when it feels like they don’t. Extend this mindset to your students. You will find that the vast majority of people mean well in all that they do, especially in our noble profession. The ripple effect will be extraordinary.
Q Thinking about the 2020-21 school year as a whole, what was your greatest lesson, either about teaching or yourself as a professional?
A It is important to find your purpose and joy in each day, set realistic expectations for yourself, and pick at least one day a week to go home on time.