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First Person

First Person

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others thinking and writing about public education.

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I use newspapers to teach my students about the world and how to shape it

My middle school students are digital natives. They embrace print journalism anyway.

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My SHSAT scores didn’t show what I could achieve at Brooklyn Tech

A summer program for high-achieving, low-income students gave me a second chance.

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Students of color deserve to see themselves in their school curriculum

I never did. Schools must do better.

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I was a Stuyvesant high school senior on 9/11. It changed me forever.

The people who suffer the most in disasters big and small are often those with the least agency: children.

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I voted for masks in school. I worried for my safety after.

I am unnerved. I am upset. But I have no regrets about the vote I made.

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On 9/11, they were at school. Here’s what happened inside their classrooms.

Chalkbeat asked teachers and students what they remember about that terrifying day 20 years later

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I’m a Philadelphia principal. Here’s how we have prepared for a year like no other. 

Our school is facing devastating enrollment declines, COVID losses, and other trauma. We know our educators have an important role to play.

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I got rid of my writing class. My students are better writers for it.

Here’s how I teach writing to elementary school students now.

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‘Who are Taliban?’ and other questions kindergarten teachers field

When my students ask about world events, I commit to telling them the age-appropriate truth. Here’s how.

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I am an elementary school educator, and I embrace critical race theory

My lessons center on my students’ lives and stories.

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Students are more traumatized than I imagined

I taught summer school in NYC. The city’s children need a place to process the losses of the COVID era.

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Picturing my senior year in the age of COVID

With her poetry and photographs, a recent Cass Tech graduate reveals the losses and lessons of the pandemic school year.

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I almost didn’t apply to college. My school counselor changed my mind. 

Here’s what he told me when the application process — and my family’s hardships — felt insurmountable.

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I am a great teacher before lunch but a mediocre one later in the day 

By the last period, I’m exhausted. I’m not alone.

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My students thrived last year because they weren’t policed 

The COVID era showed us why punitive policies don’t work.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.

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It’s time for teachers — and textbooks — to capitalize the “B” in Black

The fight for capitalization has been going on for decades, but curriculums have been slow to adapt.

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This summer, teachers need more than a reset

Educator wellness doesn’t just happen. It’s hard work.

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How schools can meet the needs of formerly incarcerated students

I work with young people convicted of crimes. The way they are treated when they go back to school can mean the difference between regression and rehabilitation.

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When teaching children how to write, we must also explain why to write

Writing is not just a set of skills to master; it’s a way of acting in the world.

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Four years ago, I could barely scramble eggs. Now, I’m a culinary high school graduate. 

Freshman year, I was full of self-doubt. Here’s what I wish I’d known back then.

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It’s my job to explain our district’s budget. It keeps getting harder.

My state has been shifting more education costs to communities, and it’s painful.

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Holocaust education often blurs fact and fiction. That must change.

We need to overhaul how we teach about Nazi victims.

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We need to meet the needs of Black civics students like me

Amid attempts to ban critical race theory and suppress the vote, schools must prioritize teaching young African Americans how to engage in democracy.

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I founded Magic Dads mentor program because gun violence is traumatizing Memphis students

As a special education teaching assistant, I know that everything children experience in their communities follows them through the schoolhouse doors.

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You’ve heard of AP exams. Why not CLEP?

At our high school, hope amid the pandemic came in the form of college credits.

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At our school, DEI isn’t a buzzword or a one-off lesson. Doing the work means doing it every day.

We declared our school a ‘campus of social justice.’ Here’s what that means.