No more ‘sink-or-swim’ for new teachers

[caption id="attachment_221330" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Teacher hopefuls Noor Maghrebi and Leo Sanchez take a break from teaching to pose at Julian High School in Chicago, IL.[/caption]

It’s a warm July day, and Leo Sanchez, an undergrad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is standing in front of a group of drowsy Chicago high schoolers. Sanchez is spending four weeks this summer student teaching at Chicago's Julian High School on the Far South Side, part of a program designed to foster more resilient teachers. He knows he needs to switch up his lesson to get his classroom’s attention — but what should he do? 

Across the U.S, high-poverty schools have higher rates of teacher turnover and more inexperienced teachers. Chicago is no exception. By offering teaching hopefuls such as Sanchez a deeper experience beyond a student teaching stint, a Golden Apple Foundation program hopes to help would-be teachers get a better grip on the challenges of the profession — and how to address them. 

As combating teacher burnout takes on new significance amid a statewide teacher shortage, Chalkbeat Chicago reporter Yana Kunichoff visited the program and spent a morning with teacher hopefuls such as Sanchez. Read her dispatch here.

Week in review

Beyond closings: What are the alternatives to closing under-enrolled schools? With some neighborhood campuses facing student declines, two advocacy groups hosted a workshop to arm parents and community members with options. Chalkbeat Chicago tagged along. 

Moving on up: The early learning chief in Chicago has taken the top early childhood job in Massachusetts, leaving Mayor Lori Lightfoot a vacancy at a critical juncture of the city’s universal pre-K rollout. Chalkbeat Chicago looked at the obstacles facing the mayor’s next hire.

School desegregation on the presidential trail: One conversation starter on the presidential campaign trail is whether the federal government should jumpstart school district integration efforts. Chalkbeat’s national team examined the federal bill in the center of the discussion.

Trauma close to home: Though homicides in Chicago have decreased, the number of children under 5 living in violent neighborhoods is growing. The Chicago Tribune explained new research about the potential impacts. 

Strike context: As negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the mayor’s office heat up, Vox took an in-depth look at the current wave of labor activism. 

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, Yana Kunichoff, and intern Catherine Henderson, and we round up the Chicago public education news you need to know every week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

Chicago educators, we want to know what you’re doing this summer outside of the classroom. Take our summer survey and tell us about your travel plans, book recommendations, professional development, and continued education. 

Looking ahead

Chicago’s Board of Education meets Wednesday, July 24 at 10:30 am at 42 W. Madison. Speaker sign-up opens Monday July 22. 

The school district and police will hold two more public meetings on school policing on July 20, from 10 a.m. to noon at Hamilton Park in Greater Grand Crossing, and on July 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Piotrowski Park in Little Village. School police are undergoing a new series of trainings; here’s what the trainer-in-charge of the program told Chalkbeat about what they teach. 


In 1963, Rosie Simpson joined the fight for equitable public education in her protest against “Willis wagons,” aluminum trailers then-superintendent Benjamin Willis deployed as classrooms to house black students instead of allowing them to attend nearby white schools. 

This past week, Simpson spoke on a panel about the history of parent education activism in Chicago. Joining her was Elisabeth Greer, a parent at Chicago’s National Teachers Academy, a majority black school on the city’s South Side that escaped the threat of closure in 2018 after parents staged a strong protest; Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a new member of Chicago’s Board of Education and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Candace Moore, the new Chief Equity Officer for the city. 

Though 55 years of history separate the two parents and their advocacy, Greer said she saw parallels. “Our story is so similar to Ms. Rosie’s. I hope that in 10-20 years we aren’t telling this story again with someone else about how the system again is being racist.”