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 This year my classroom was a hybrid model, with about 20% of students in-person and 80% virtual – both synchronous.
Q What is something you’ve learned from a student this year?
A I learned that poverty impacts every facet of one’s life, both physical and emotional.
Q What have you seen over the course of this school year that gives you hope/optimism about Texas public schools?
A I feel like the families, despite maybe not all finishing high school themselves, truly value the education and opportunities that come with a high school degree.
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 My teacher prep program left a considerable amount to be desired, I wish I learned more concrete, actionable steps to take as an educator when faced with common problems on campus.
Q What is a practice/strategy you will take from your teaching experience during COVID-19 and integrate into future (non-COVID) years?
A I think having condensed and recorded my lectures so that students could use them as a review tool was a great investment of my time, as it allowed students to review exactly what was covered that day.
Q What advice or encouragement do you have for teachers starting their careers in the 2021-22 school year?
A Your efforts are noticed, the little things you do in class are appreciated, and the life lessons you expose your students to genuinely stick. I was teaching a chemistry class and stopped it in the middle as a student had a question about credit cards and what compound interest was. We started a class discussion on how compound interest is a powerful force that can make or break an individual based on if it is working for or against them. Try to be a teacher that guides students’ lives beyond the classroom.