Insecure Teaching Spaces and the Chicago Walk Out

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Brandon Melendez on the teachers and the current CTU strike Is this push for reform by corporate America about the children, or is it about union busting? -M.P.

Insecure Teaching Spaces and the Chicago Walk Out

By Brandon Melendez

It takes a lot for teachers to consider calling out sick for a day. A classroom is a delicate creature that is maintained only through the sheer management skills and dynamic relationships that a teacher develops with their students. After a brief honeymoon any substitute teacher will begin to find themselves immediately tested by the children of a classroom and likewise the teacher feels crippled and worried about the state of affairs of their classroom; every time a clock is glanced at the absent teacher is wondering what their students are doing and are measuring their activity on the day away from the classroom by what their normal schedule would have them doing.

“10:30 AM with the flu? Normally I’d be taking the kids to Gym right now”

“I wonder how Johnny is treating the sub? It took me a long time to get him engaged…he’s probably running roughshod over the sub…”

“I hope Jane ate breakfast today…I hope the sub knows to send her to the cafeteria if she didn’t…”

It isn’t because teachers are control freaks that they think like this, but rather it is because a classroom is a delicate creature; it is an environment that is created by a single person and a community that is formed by many. It is full of norms, and needs, and surprises…but most of all a classroom is a creature of habit. The more that habit is disrupted, the more it deviates from the norm the less successful that room will be. Teachers need that consistency and those habits—the schedules and routines—in order to foster an environment in which children feel safe, secure, supported, and free to inquire. Any day spent in the classroom builds the consistency and any day away is a step towards the fast destruction of that consistency.

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