First Person Guidelines

Chalkbeat publishes personal essays in a series we call First Person. Our goal is to elevate the voices of educators, students, parents, advocates, and others on the front lines of trying to improve public education.

We’re not looking for traditional opinion pieces, like those you might find on newspaper editorial pages. We’re seeking essays centered around your personal experience or observation. Our pieces are usually around 800 words.

Strong First Person pieces have a conversational tone, presenting specific examples from the author’s own experience and connecting those examples to larger issues.

We’re always looking for pieces that...

Are vulnerable in acknowledging uncomfortable emotions and experiences, such as fear or mistakes, and the lessons that emerged as a result.

Take on conventional wisdom about education, or about being an educator, a student, or a parent of a student.

Discuss complex educational choices students and families face.

Speak to the lived experience of educators.

Consider a news event’s real-life impact on schools, educators, and students.

Provide a unique personal perspective about an issue people are talking about.

Recount formative classroom experiences, why they were significant, and what changed as a result.

Take a look in our archive for even more examples.

Please note that First Person does not publish:

  • Traditional op-eds that approach an issue solely from a pro/con approach.
  • Academic submissions that don’t speak to a personal experience.
  • Pieces that focus on promoting a specific organization, tool, or program.

Interested in writing a piece? Send your questions, pitches, or drafts to

Not sure if your idea will work? Nervous about writing? Please reach out — we will work with you.