“Realizing I’m Human” | Hooray For Monday

May 20, 2024

By Jenna Fournel, Director of Teaching and Learning

Listen to this week’s Hooray For Monday podcast to listen to Jenna’s conversation with Joangelee Hernandez, Pre-K Program Manager at CentroNia in Washington, DC and ‘23-24 Teaching with Improvisation Fellow. Joangelee shares insight into her journey into leadership and the lessons she’s learning along the way!

It’s difficult to try new things – to stretch and to grow – without making any mistakes.

As teachers, we understand this for our students and, when we adopt an improvisational mindset in the classroom, embracing mistakes is central to that work. But do we allow ourselves the same permission to mess up that we afford our students?

Joangelee Hernandez taught Pre-K at CentroNía in Washington, DC for several years before she stepped into her current Program Manager position at the school. We met her last summer when she became a Teaching with Improvisation Fellow. At the end of our Institute in June, she said Embracing Mistakes was something she was going to work on this school year. We caught up with her a week ago to see how things are going.

“It’s been a great year,” she said right away. Great, in part, because Ms. Hernandez has pushed herself and her colleagues to stretch beyond comfort zones and flow with the learning that comes from that messy but joyful process.

“Everybody makes mistakes. I definitely need to realize that I’m human. Things are not always going to go as expected, especially when you’re trying to come up with so many different things.”

This year she and her colleagues have created new events to bring parents into the classroom and made significant strides to deepen relationships between and among the staff. Getting everyone to buy into so much change has required Ms. Hernandez to model her own human-ness as a leader. You can listen to this week’s podcast to learn all about how she does this.

Here are a few tips from what she shares:

  • Be clear about your goal and share that goal with others, even if you don’t know exactly how you’ll get there.
  • Be open to suggestions and give others ownership over the process as you work toward these big goals.
  • Be willing to step in and help when others need it. Cover classes, assist with materials, and show up – and your colleagues will too.
  • Get comfortable saying, “I don’t know,” and ask for help from your colleagues to find answers.
  • Create opportunities for play. You’ll find out new things about yourself and your colleagues when you do.

If you are a teacher at a school in Washington, DC, and you want to embrace your human potential like Ms. Hernandez and be inspired to shift your practice in new ways, apply for the 2024-2025 cohort of Teaching with Improvisation Fellows. We’d love to learn with you!  

For teachers who aren’t in DC, be sure to check out our upcoming Inspired Teaching Institutes and the many Inspired Teaching activities and strategies you can access online!

For additional insights, resources, and information on Inspired Teaching teacher and youth programming, subscribe to the Hooray For Monday newsletter!

Hooray For Monday is an award-winning weekly publication by Center for Inspired Teaching, an independent nonprofit organization that invests in and supports teachers. Inspired Teaching provides transformative, improvisation-based professional learning for teachers that is 100% engaging – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Our mission is to create radical change in the school experience – away from compliance and toward authentic engagement.

Listen to This Week’s Episode of Hooray For Monday


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