Teacher Talk on School Climate: Armed and Pedagogical?

By Kori Milroy

The recent Sandy Hook school massacre has brought about a nationwide focus on school safety and security.  Ideas for improving security range from an across the board ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, to placing an armed guard in every school building.  Some groups have called for teachers and/or administrators to be armed with guns or Tasers. What do teachers think about all this? [Click to download]  Are they ready and willing to be armed?  The nation’s two largest teachers’ unions released a statement opposing arming teachers, but some teachers have embraced the idea, filling up free firearms training sessions being offered in Ohio, Utah, and Texas.

On this episode of Teacher Talk, Chicago Public Schools teachers Conor Fitzsimmons and Jennifer Christiansen share their opinions on school safety and security, and the prospect of teachers carrying guns. Download the episode here or stream it below. to listen in on Kori, Conor’s, and Jennifer’s conversation about the vision, and add your own voice to the mix by leaving a comment here on the VIVA Teachers website, below this post.


This is the third installment of Teacher Talk, an ongoing series of conversations between teachers talking about education policy.

Teacher Talk: RESPECT Project

Do teachers get enough respect? Does the teaching profession need to be “transformed” in order be respected?

In this episode of Teacher Talk, VIVA Teacher Leader Kori Milroy and Chicago Public Schools teacher Erika Wozniak discuss the U.S. Department of Education’s new RESPECT Project [click to download] , a vision for the future of the teaching profession that seeks to make teaching the most respected profession in America. Kori and Erika both teach elementary grades at public schools in Chicago.

Download the episode here or stream it below. to listen in on Kori and Erika’s conversation about the vision, and add your own voice to the mix by leaving a comment here on the VIVA website.

This is the second installment of Teacher Talk, an ongoing series of conversations between teachers talking about education policy. This full interview is now up!

Teacher Talk: The Good, the Bad and the Charter (Episode 1)

Kori Milroy interviewing Rachel Douglas SwansonVIVA Teacher Leader Kori Milroy, host of Teacher Talk, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of charter schools with Rachel Douglas Swanson who teaches at LEARN Charter School in Chicago. Download the 30-minute podcast to listen in on a fascinating conversation about the misconceptions and challenges charters face. Learn about the differences between teaching at a charter and a traditional public school. Hear how Swanson felt when she got her first raise based on her performance. And get jealous when she talks about getting the things she needs to be an effective teacher.

This is the first installment of Teacher Talk, an ongoing series of conversations between teachers talking about education policy.

Download the episode here or stream it below.

VIVA Teacher Leaders on WBEZ

Teachers facing longer school days consider best use of additional time

January 27, 2012, Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

(AP/M. Spencer Green)
With a longer school day, CPS teachers look for ways to use the extra class time to most benefit their students.

What’s in a day? Well that’s what a group of Chicago teachers has been asking its colleagues–and after hundreds of hours of work, the VIVA Project of Chicago came up with 49 recommendations for how best to use classroom time. The project is in response to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s mandate to lengthen the school day. So what do teachers want? Well, Eight Forty-Eight invited a group of teachers who were part of the project to share their suggestions: Kori Milroy is a grade school science teacher on the West Side, Dave Quanz is the technology coordinator at a Logan Square elementary school and Brian Graves teaches third grade at a Hyde Park school. Eight Forty-Eight was also joined by Heather DeCook, a third grade teacher at Riverview Elementary School in South Beloit, Illinois.

Click here to download mp3 of the segment

VIVA Teacher leaders co-author CPS report on recess

VIVA Teacher leaders Kori Milroy and David Quanz were asked by CPS to co-author a report on how principals should implement recess into the full school day. Read the full CPS press release.

Chicago Public Schools Partner with Viva Teachers to Develop Resource Guide as Schools Plan to Integrate Recess into Full School Day

Feedback from 600 CPS teachers via the Viva Project will help shape district’s recess proposal for the 2012/2013 school year

January 17, 2012

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced they are co-writing a recess guide with teachers from the Viva Project that will assist principals in developing their own recess plans for next school year as recess, as part of the Full Day initiative, is implemented across all district elementary schools.  This guide will build upon the recess guide that was developed last year, and includes input from representatives from community organizations such as Healthy Schools Campaign, Raise Your Hand, and Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI).

The VIVA Project is an independent organization that works to increase classroom teachers’ participation in education issues across the country.  Last December, the VIVA Project, in partnership with National Louis University, launched the VIVA Teachers’ Chicago Ideas Exchange, a project that solicited the feedback of nearly 600 CPS teachers in developing recommendations for the Full School Day. The ideas in the recess guide will be rooted in the recommendations set forth in VIVA’s collaborative report written by the members of the Idea Exchange.

“The Viva Project’s Teachers’ Chicago Ideas Exchange has turned out to be an incredible resource for us to ensure that teachers, who have a critical voice and perspective in this process, can help shape how to best utilize the Full School Day,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “Recess is a key part of the full day and studies show that having time for recess not only promotes lifelong habits of healthy living, but also increases the likelihood of a student’s success in the classroom.”

The VIVA Project teachers offered many suggestions for the Full School Day, including recommending that schools be given flexibility in shaping their school day, promoting creative scheduling strategies like double blocks, and presenting recommendations for time allotments by groups of grade levels, rather than separate allotments for each grade.

“I’m glad to see that some of our ideas for the school day are actually being implemented.  Teachers know first-hand what our students need, but oftentimes we are the last ones to be asked for input. The VIVA project changed that by allowing every teacher in the district to have a say. The professionals at Central Office have been incredibly responsive to our ideas, which is wonderful,” said Kori Milroy, teacher from Skinner West elementary school and co-writer of the resource guide.

The resource guide will include recommendations that will assist principals in addressing various issues that arise in scheduling recess such as; ensuring the safety of all students and making accommodations for students with disabilities.  This guide will be particularly helpful for those principals who did not previously have time to provide recess in the past.