teachers

Spencer Tritt

Illinois is in the middle of a severe teacher shortage, which also extends to substitute teachers. That problem has gotten much worse during the pandemic.

Amanda Christensen is the DeKalb County Regional Superintendent. Her office is the hub for subs, helping with background checks and licenses.

“I think that there's a greater drain on the system, and we certainly are not keeping up with the need,” she said.

Goodly Creatures, LLC

This week’s episode is with Katrina Syrris. She leads a double life. By day, Katrina is a high school theater teacher at St. Edward Central Catholic. By night and weekends, she owns and operates Goodly Creatures -- her theater production company.

She’s a producer, a director, a playwright -- the list goes on and on. 

Host Peter Medlin talked to Katrina about being an artist during the pandemic. Goodly Creatures lost their studio space during COVID so she’s had to pivot online both for her theater company and her high school classes.

SD209

Students in the Proviso School District are still learning remotely as COVID-19 case rates go up across Illinois. But their teachers are now working inside the district’s school buildings, despite safety concerns and the Teachers’ Union filing of an Unfair Labor Practice & Grievance against the district.

 

Almost 300 Proviso teachers have been back for a week now. Maggie Riley -- she’s the president of the Proviso Teachers’ Union -- said the conditions are exactly what they were worried about. 

 

Judith Meyer

Our guest this episode is Judith Meyer, she’s an artist -- a painter, to be exact -- and art professor at Rock Valley College.

Judith talked to host Peter Medlin about how to virtually teach about art, the unexpected places around the world her art has gone to, what she's been working on during the pandemic, creativity as a spiritual exercise and so much more.

Peter Medlin

On a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge, we have Jason Cavanaugh. He’s a high school math teacher and baseball coach in Sycamore.

They’re learning remotely. So, Jason is going into his empty, retrofitted math class to teach kids who are at home. Obviously, he’s never done this before, the students haven’t either. And, as you can imagine, the technology is not always flawless.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge episode we have Deb Baird. She has ran her own at-home daycare business since 1984.

She talked to host Peter Medlin about her 36 years raising hundreds of kids in her own home. They went into how much it’s changed as she’s gotten older, her focus on nature -- especially monarch butterflies -- and so much more.

Whether it’s the global pandemic or social unrest, nearly everyone has experienced some trauma in 2020.

It’s hard to grasp the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19. But many Americans have already seen their mental health suffer during the pandemic.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge episode we have Molly Lilja, principal at Manchester Elementary School in Poplar Grove.

She talked to host Peter Medlin about everything from the challenges of preparing for the school year during COVID, like putting up thousands of dollars’ worth of plexiglass dividers or having some students eat lunch in the library. They also chat about teaching online, what that was like in the spring and how the fall could be different.

Near the end, they also touch on Molly’s passion for playing a certain extreme sport!

Spencer Tritt

As the pandemic began to surge, schools closed and most students switched to online learning almost overnight. Schools with less access to technology relied on paper packets, especially for elementary students.

It was more like crisis teaching, like building the plane as you’re flying it. That’s how Lindsay Zelly described sudden changeover. She’s the director of professional learning at the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance. They provide professional development and online resources to teachers.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, host Peter Medlin talks with Northern Illinois University’s Dr. Lara Crowley. She’s the chair of the English department at NIU.

They cover how her department is making the transition online this fall, her work teaching and learning about Shakespeare in England, and the thrill of discovering 500-year-old poems!

Near the end they also talk a little bit about her kids getting into Harry Potter for the first time during the pandemic. So, indulge them as they geek out on that for a few minutes. Shout-out to the Ravenclaws.

Peter Medlin

Rockford Public Schools just became the latest district to release a plan for reopening.

No matter the grade level, parents can choose full-time remote learning.

But in-person will look different depending on a student’s age.

The elementary school option will be all day, five days a week.

Heidi Dettman is the executive director of academics.

“The biggest reason is because of how critical their time with their teachers is at this developmental stage,” said Dettman.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, host Peter Medlin sat down digitally with Ayla Peczkowski. She taught English & Special Ed at the Roosevelt Community Education Center in Rockford. Now she’s going to be in an administrative role at East High School, also in Rockford.

They talked about Ayla’s mixed feelings about schools reopening, teaching her students about news literacy during the pandemic and much more.

This episode goes in depth on what goes into a reopening plan. And there’s a story highlighting the struggles international students have faced during COVID-19.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge podcast, host Peter Medlin had a long chat with Huntley Middle School Principal Amonaquenette Parker.

Parker talked about the big lessons she learned about education during the pandemic and her perspective as a Black educator and mother as the country has started having more conversations about racial inequality and police brutality.

The conversation covered a lot of ground, so they also talked about when Parker’s mom was her boss for a few years and her love of cheesy romance novels.

Spencer Tritt

The State guidelines that were announced Tuesday for schools to resume in-person classes this fall need more work. That’s according to one of Illinois’ biggest teachers unions.

The pandemic put schools across the country in a tough position. They know many don’t consider the quality of e-learning equal to that of in-person instruction. But, even with new in-person safety protocols, some parents say they aren’t going to feel comfortable sending their kids to school.

Peter Medlin

The DeKalb School Board held a special meeting today on Juneteenth to ask members of the public to talk about their experiences with racism and inequality in the school system.

The need for more staff diversity was brought up by several speakers. Surveys show racial disparities between the numbers of black students and teachers exist across the country.

JUANPABLO RAMIREZ-FRANCO / WNIJ

Watching protests unfold in his hometown of DeKalb, Maurice McDavid saw a black student he taught in the eighth grade leading a march. He remembered rapping with that student in a Black History Month presentation.

“I want all of our students of color to know that their lives matter, that they have value,” he said. “And, if I can just be very honest, as I watched some of the protesting, some of that anger explode out into rioting -- I've thought about the safety of my students.”

Marilyn Moltz

Editor’s Note: WNIJ and our podcast Teachers’ Lounge are giving a platform for you to hear some of valedictorian speeches students may not get to give in person this year. It’s called “Dear Class of 2020...” If you want your school to be a part of our special edition show, send us an email at teacherslounge@niu.edu. And thanks!

Justin Saichek

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, seventh grade language arts teacher Justin Saichek AKA The Last Wordbender. Justin is a rapper and spoken word artist who teaches at West Middle School in Rockford.

Justin talked to host Peter Medlin about how he got his rap name, teaching in the same building he went to middle school, coronavirus learning challenges, freestyle rap battles, and they dove deep on Justin’s hip hop career and music influences.

Jim Kanas

On a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge, roots musician, jazz guitarist & music teacher: Jim Kanas. He’s retiring from DeKalb Public Schools this year and has been an artist-in-residence with the Illinois Arts Council at schools across the state.

Jim talked to host Peter Medlin about e-learning, being an artist outside of the big city, his passion for American music and, obviously, we didn’t have him on without making him play a little something.

Evadne Bowlin

This week, the Teachers’ Lounge is actually a Student Teachers’ Lounge. We have DeKalb Founders Elementary student teacher & Northern Illinois University senior, Evadne Bowlin.

Evadne talked to host Peter Medlin about how coronavirus affects her both as a student-teacher and just as a college student. We also got into her journey to education and how she’s kind of been a student teacher since the 7th grade.

John Zuber

On this week’s show: John Zuber. He talked with host Peter Medlin about teaching in the time of coronavirus. John is particularly fascinated by how it’s impacted his relationships with his students. He thinks so far doing classes online from his couch while traversing technical difficulties has made them more casual and maybe more personable.

 

Spencer Tritt

During the dash to prepare students and families to learn from home, the rural Oregon Community School District issued what amounted to a disclaimer. 

 

John Zuber is an Oregon high school English teacher. He says the district had to say e-learning simply won’t be at the same level of education they get in the classroom. It’s just not possible.

 

“Which is a good admission, I think. It's like we can't replicate what we would normally do, but we're trying," he said.

 

TEDxNorthwesternU

On this week’s show: Jay Rehak. He’s an author and Chicago Public Schools language arts teacher. He and his classes at Whitney Young High School are the co-writers of over a dozen student-sourced novels. 

 

From Here To Uruguay | Teachers' Lounge Podcast

Mar 6, 2020
Peter Medlin

On this week’s show: James Cohen. He’s an associate professor of ESL & bilingual education at Northern Illinois University. He’s also a former Fulbright Scholar who has lived in several different countries across the world and most recently taught in Uruguay.

 

Peter Medlin

On a new Teachers' Lounge: Trudy DesLauriers. She's a reading specialist at Morris Elementary School who has taught for over 30 years. She also has two golden retriever therapy dogs, Martha and Thelma Lou, who come in to help struggling readers. Once a month, a group of other therapy dogs from greyhounds to goldendoodles join them for their "Sit! Stay! Read!" event.

Trudy talked to host Peter Medlin about how her therapy dog program and how Martha and Thelma Lou sometimes get to offer emotional support for students on top of the reading help.

Maggie Kasicki

On this week’s podcast: Maggie Kasicki talks to host Peter Medlin. She teaches English as a Second Language at Rockford University. She also volunteers at schools across Rockford teaching cross-cultural education. They also talked a lot about her traveling, but specifically about how she travels culturally. There's no Holiday Inn, no continental breakfast. Maggie gets straight-up embedded.

 

Erik Czerwin

Erik Czerwin, language arts & literature teacher at Rockford's Guilford High School, sits down with host Peter Medlin for a wide-ranging discussion of the top education issues of 2019 and what they'll be looking at in 2020. 

They talk about everything from local stories like:

Spencer Tritt

 

Illinois is struggling to attract and hire new teachers. A new program hopes to borrow a few tricks from the medical field to address the issue.

Peter Medlin

This week, we’ve got a retired physical education teacher and girls’ basketball coach.

His name is Paul Williams, he taught and coached at Prairie Hills Junior High in Markham, Illinois for decades.

Paul talked to host Peter Medlin about the greatest lessons he’s learned about teaching, coaching and traveling across the country with his basketball teams and much more.

Peter Medlin

This week, a really special episode we've been excited about for a while. It’s a conversation with Dick Hart. He’s an 89-year-old retired choral teacher at Downers Grove North High School. He also played trombone in the Army band when he served during Korean War. Dick talked to Peter about all of that, his motto "music is life" and so much more.

Also on the show, a trip to the STEAM Academy at Haskell Elementary in Rockford to see how they jumped from being a lowest-performing school to a "commendable" one in just a year.

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