Señora Penha’s first year at HSE was veiled by COVID-19. Penha revealed some insight as to what it’s like to be a new teacher in the middle of the pandemic.
Q: You are new to the HSE district this year, where did you previously teach?
A: I taught in Georgia before here in both public and private systems. Before I came to the USA, I taught in Mexico and Brazil too.
Q: What was the biggest challenge with starting a new teaching job during the pandemic?
A: Challenge is the WORD. Everything was a challenge but the biggest one was to bond with my students. For me it is really important to know them and make them know me. Virtually, it’s not as easy as in person.
Q: What skills have you gained from teaching students both online and in person?
A: More than skills I gain experience, I have never taught a virtual class before and now I can do it with no problems. But if I have to say a “skill that I gained” can be the ability to give the same attention to students in person and virtual at the same time.
Q: How has your teaching style changed, and can you see it staying the same next year?
A: This year Flexibility and Grace are the two words that all teachers are working with every single day. Grace was already part of my teaching style. Since English is not my first language, I know how hard and challenging a new language can be. Flexibility is the point, in the past, I did not accept typed work and now we’re using Zoom, virtual classes, online assignments, etc. I had to open my mind and change that inside me. And yes, I am pretty comfortable with typed assignments now.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the 2021-22 school year?
A: I know that this is going to sound cliché but, I can’t wait to see the faces and expressions of all my students – no masks – but I am not sure when we will be able to have that. Another thing that I am looking forward to having a classroom full of students!