Ten Charles Butt Scholar alumni, now first and second-year teachers, share their struggles, victories, and learnings a few months into the 2020-21 school year. These new Texas teachers find inspiration in their profession, and in the process, inspire us. Explore the full Q&A portfolio.

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

A 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.

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

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

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

A 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.

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

A 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!

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

A 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.