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First Person Guidelines

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

We’re not looking for traditional opinion pieces. We’re seeking essays centered around the writer’s personal experience or observation. Our pieces are usually around 800 words.

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

We’re always looking for pieces that...

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

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

Are vulnerable in acknowledging uncomfortable emotions and experiences, 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 the complex educational choices students and families face.

Speak to the lived experience of educators.

Shed light on an untraditional educational experience.

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

Take a look at our archive for even more examples. First Person pays $125 per published piece. Please note that First Person does not run:
  • Traditional op-eds that approach an issue solely from a pro/con perspective.
  • 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.