Advice For The New Year

What was the best advice you were ever given (or wish you'd been given) about working in / being a parent in CPS?  They're sharing advice for parents and kids over at Zorn's blog -- see examples below -- but I wondered what you all would have to add, especially about the realities of the classroom and school life.  Big picture stuff, or where to park -- any and all kinds of things are welcome as long as it's specific and constructive (or at least funny).

"During the next four years, parents, teachers, counselors, coaches and club leaders will do wonderful, inspiring things to help your children have new opportunities.  Write a thank you note, let them know their kindess has made a difference.  Have your child write a thank you note."

"Believe it or not, the teachers and parents and other relatives who, if you’re lucky, will ride you hard these next four years, really want you to succeed. And despite their advanced age and cultural cluelessness, they can and want to help you through just about any academic or personal problem you'll encounter. Ask them questions. Trust their answers. They're on your side."


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  • We needed to hear "Here are the names and cell phone numbers of the best special education lawyer, education consultant for children with this disability, and neuropsychologist. Oh, an here' a winning Lotto ticket." Yea. Wish we had heard that advice as we entered CPS for the first time.

  • Run

    I was getting a transfer after being held hostage by the system .For 25
    Years Simeon was home ,then in 95 things changed. The transfer list
    Was opened and I was lucky enough to get a chance to go to Bogan.
    I had to fight for two hours at 39th st .Just because I had both principals
    Signature it didn’t mean a thing. The bureaucrat behind the counter
    Was furious that race was no longer a factor, or perhaps she was so mad
    because nobody told her. Anyhow after calling everyone she could think of
    she finally had to admit I was right.
    There were just two of us on the elevator ride down. the other person
    Said she was leaving a suburban school for the adventure of CPS .
    I looked her straight in the eye and told her to run. That is the same advice
    I would give anyone contemplating the adventure of a Chicago Classroom.

  • I am a veteran who has taught all over the west and south sides.
    I love the children, like the parents and despise the CPS system.
    I had lots of good advice regarding classroom management which I desperately needed when I started on the west side in 1974. Back then, veterans advised and new teachers listened. Staff, no matter how diverse, was cohesive. Veterans are now held in disdain by CPS administration, usually because we know more than they do.

    I do have advice for parents of special education students-you need to advocate for your child...question everything..if you disagree with something get it into the parent concerns section of the IEP..that way you have it in writing...the old guard special education teachers who usually advocate for the children are retiring and the new, non-tenured teachers are either unable or unwilling to advocate for your have much more power than you think. Please advocate.

  • Parents (and teachers) of students with disabilities: Get free help from the Family Resource Center for Disabilities (

    From the FRCD website:

    Welcome to the Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD) the Chicago Metropolitan area Parent Training and Information Center!

    We are also here to help you learn about what he or she needs to lead a productive and independent adult life.

    FRCD is here to help you:

    - Learn about your Rights and Responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    - Make informed decisions about your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
    - Obtain appropriate services for your child
    - Communicate more effectively with school professionals
    - Come together with other parents who share your concerns and desires to make a difference
    - Learn more about Early Intervention and transition services
    - Effect positive change in your child’s school

    Have additional questions about FRCD? Browse our frequently asked questions or contact us at 312-939-3513.

    ” The Family Resource Center on Disabilities is funded in part by the U.S Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. The contents of the website, however, and any websites and documents cited here in do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S Department of Education.”

  • The best conclusion I made and want to pass along is, "This School Year, Don't Teach Like a Champion." My lastest blog post is a review of a book that is gaining popularity in low-income schools as the vaccine for bad classroom behavior.

    Teach Like a Champion actually perpetuates the culture of low expectations among black and brown youth. Read, comment, and spread the word about my blog to keep the conversation going:

    (Thanks again to Alexander for the opportunity to post here.)

  • Our school was Lemoved last year, just as it was Danielsoned the year before and 'all IDS all the timed' the year before that. Each time another 'foolproof' formula was imposed, the younger teachers would scramble trying to figure out what the principal and APs thought that looked like in the classroom. Those most wet behind the ears acted like "Vegas Baby Vegas" was some groundbreaking theory supported by deep meta analysis instead of a cheesy name for things people do in the classroom all the time. When come in with a wireless mike and speakers for the kids to make a radio play out of the daily reading, I will make more points with my administrator if I gush about how I taught like a champion that day and pepper my conversation with these asinine labels, instead of just saying we had a good class today and we got participation out of some the kids who like to act out. In other words, :::we taught:::.
    You should have seen how crushed some of the newbies were when told that since Huberman was leaving, IDS was probably over. What - when supporting IDS was an easy way to kiss up to the principal and to act like they knew what was going on? When it was their big opportunity to show what resisters of change those old (read 40something) teachers were who rolled their eyes and reeled off half a dozen other initiatives that it resembled that had also been declared the be-all end-all just before they were chucked by the district?
    The only things wrong with that dumb Lemov book were that the AIOs acted like that was ALL you had to do to be a good teacher, and worse , that if you didn't call your teaching methods by these names, you would get scowled at like those baristas who get apoplexy if you ask for a large coffee instead of a Venti mild.
    In other words, if you use real words instead of made-up ones.

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