Advice for new teachers: ‘Take care of your hearts — and theirs’

For thousands of Chicago teachers just embarking on their careers, the flurry and jitters of the first day of school have come and gone.

Now what remains is the huge challenge of reaching and educating children — and a gazillion questions about how to do that within a complex school system with plenty of its own issues.

Acknowledging that experienced teachers have wisdom to pass down to emerging professionals, Chalkbeat Chicago asked veteran educators to reflect on their jobs and submit stories about their first day in the classroom.

We heard from several of you, then narrowed it down to four perspectives, which we showcased at a back-to-school storytelling event in late August for teachers at Marz Brewing in Bridgeport. 

Here’s a brief video recap about we heard.

Chanita Jones-Howard, a special education teacher at South Shore International College Prep, spoke about her decision to work in a school system that, as a former grad, she vowed she’d never return to.

Kenzo Shibata, who teaches civics and English at Ogden High School, spoke about a successful assignment that surprised even him.

Dominicca T. Washington, an English teacher at Percy L. Julian High School, encouraged teachers to advocate for themselves.

And Alicia Torres, a humanities teacher at Sor Juana Elementary, motivated teachers with a reminder of the critical importance of the job: “You are about to change the world.”

The event was part of our ongoing commitment to hear what community members, families, and educators have to say about their schools and let that influence our coverage. Chalkbeat Chicago has hosted nine events since launching last summer (to see our plan for coverage this school year, click here). 

Chalkbeat also is seeking first-person columns by teachers on various important topics in education. Some recent perspectives include this column about building a lesson around gun violence, this perspective about flaws in the city’s Star Scholarship program, and this view about trying to keep a classroom calm.