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WBEZ: New closeness among teachers seen as silver lining to the strike

by Linda Lutton - WBEZ  |  10/04/2012

Ask teachers what they gained out on the picket lines, and some will mention their new contract. But many will also say something like this: 

"The staff feels closer, which helps the school community," says Jen McSurley, a first-year teacher at Galileo Scholastic Academy magnet school in Little Italy.

Veteran teacher Terri Kopec chimes in: "It helps the students, helps the parents—we feel it, we really do," she says.

The feeling that teachers got to know each other, got to bond, was a topic of conversation on picket lines from Howard Street to the 100s. Teachers from third-floor classrooms talked to colleagues on the first floor. Eighth grade teachers hung around with the kindergarten set. They baked for each other and barbecued in school parking lots. Teachers spent time with each other in a way they don’t usually have a chance to. 

And many say that’s exactly what they needed.

"I didn’t expect all of this camaraderie," said first grade teacher Joanna Dobrowolski on the last day of the strike. She's taught at Galileo eight years. "I didn't’t really know what a strike was going to be because I’ve never gone on a strike. And so it was interesting to see all of us bond and come together and talk about issues."

Teachers took up issues they were striking over, but also issues like how best to handle particular students. They shared tips on lesson plans, grading, how to teach reading. It might seem a little nerdy, but teachers like Dobrowolski seemed thrilled to be talking with colleagues about work.

Click here to continue reading or listen to the report from Linda Lutton at 

Chicago Teachers Union