Chicago Teacher Asks, “Do You Want to Know What I Am Fighting For?”

This post originally appeared on Real Chalk.

Do you want to know what I am fighting for?

On Thursday, a student in my 8th period class was in tears…she was afraid of the looming weight and rigor of the work that she had coming this year in her classes (she is taking all honors classes and two AP). When the bell rang, I walked her to her next class, her hands covering her face as she kept telling me how scared she was. I looked her in the eyes and told her I believe in her. That she is a fantastic writer. That no matter what obstacles are in front of her this year, whether it be her struggle with English as a second language or anxiety of failure, no matter what…I told her that I would be there for her to make sure she succeeds. She smiled, and although she wasn’t completely at ease, it made her feel better to know she wasn’t alone in this fight. She later stopped by after school, and another teacher and myself spent around 30 or 40 minutes after school talking with her and affirming her limitless capacity for success.

This is why I teach. I came into this profession because my teachers that I had, most notably Curt Maslanka and Peter Gagliano, took time out of their own lives to invest into mine. These teachers did not receive raises or commission for each student they reached. I didn’t get paid for that extra 40 minutes I spent with my student after school helping her realize her potential for greatness. It was something that came out of the goodness of our hearts, and it’s something that calls us to become teachers: the desire to make an impact in someone’s life.

If you know any teachers, you know that we don’t go into this profession for the money. And yes, the summers off are nice, but it is never the incentive. The incentive is what happened to me Friday morning when that very same student came to me with a big smile on her face…ready to take on the world. She ultimately decided to keep her Honors and AP classes the way they were, and she told me that she never felt more confident to take on the challenges that awaited her.

Hopefully you have had a teacher in your life that invested in you, believed in you, or inspired you to become who you are today. We are fighting to keep inspiring students and to continue doing what we love. If our rights are taken away (if we work for an unjust system that works us to the bone only to get rid of us when we become too much of a financial liability) then I am afraid we will never get the chance to make an impact in anyone’s life. Ultimately, we are fighting for what is right; if we can’t teach our students that if you find something that you love, and you believe in it with all your heart, then you should do everything in your power to fight for it…if we can’t teach them THAT…then we will have missed out on the single greatest impact that we could ever make as educators.

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3 thoughts on “Chicago Teacher Asks, “Do You Want to Know What I Am Fighting For?”

  1. Oh Lauren, sometimes its important to know your facts before you speak, or in this case write. I dont know where you got your salary facts, but you are grossly over in your figures. Maybe you should talk to a chicago teacher instead of googling ” Average chicago teacher salary.” Only half the students graduate? Thats just made up, and I can only assume that your either being terribly misled or are out of your mind. I would also be willing to bet my salary that you never actually went to a cps school, and have no clue how bad it can be, but I assure you, when I last opened a CPS textbook, the berlin wall was a current event, in 2005. I dont see the problem with teachers wanting better and smaller classrooms, time relevant teaching materials, and not be worried about being fired for no reason. You cannot just formulate some test to evaluate, sometimes kids don’t care about school. I for one was one of those kids, and in no way do I hold my poor performance the fault of my teachers. But oh here is a standardized test that is FOOLPROOF to tell you how good a teacher is. If that was the case and I was a teacher I would just teach the test and nothing else and be crowned teacher of the year. Here is the sad part, someone with there head just as far up their ass as you will read what you wrote and mistakes the ravings of lunatic as actual fact, and may also be swayed to go against something that is good for people in the private sector. Look up the history of unions and why they are here, and why union busting is one of the worst things to ever happen to this nation. Dont just google it, read some actual, verifiable facts…..and maybe then you will realize who the out of touch person is here. Happy christmas!

  2. The graduation rate hit a pathetic high of 60.6% percent in Chicago this year. You want to celebrate that pathetic number?
    In 2011, the median CPS teacher’s salary (before benefits!) was $67,974, and the mean was $74,236, as reported by the Illinois State Board of Education.

    Secondly, student test scores account for only 40% of a teacher’s feedback for evaluation. What else are we supposed to use? Shall we measure the self-esteem of their illiterate students?

    A recent Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans believed teacher’s unions have actually improved the quality of public education. And 47% of Americans believe they actually HURT the quality of public education.

    The unions no longer exist as they were originally intended. Union leaders have become mob bosses…and the teacher’s are forced to pay dues so the unions can throw that money around politically. Meanwhile, the unions convince teachers that they can’t survive without them. Stockholm syndrome.

    Where does this fear come from about being fired for no reason, or that an administrator will unfairly evaluate that teachers they don’t like. These are “dangers” we face in the private sector. Why do we value the job security of teachers over the quality of our children’s educations. We protect the bad teachers instead of rewarding the good teachers, and the kids lose.

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