How I Teach: Retirement edition

Welcome to the July edition of How I Teach! I’m Camille Respess, Chalkbeat’s national intern for the summer. Ann is on vacation. 

While volunteering with the Special Olympics in college, Jill Goldman found what felt like a calling. So she swapped her psychology major for special education. During nearly 40 years in the classroom, Goldman watched ideas about students with disabilities undergo a massive shift as schools grew more inclusive. 

“This is an honorable profession, and I like to think I made a difference,” she said. “It’s not an easy job, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.”

Now, the special education teacher is retiring. Her next stop: serving Reubens out of her brother’s food truck. 

Goldman is a part of our July edition of “How I Teach” featuring longtime educators transitioning into retirement. Read on to learn why Goldman started giving parents her cell phone number and why she thinks new teachers should have grace and persistence.

As always, if you have feedback about this newsletter, please share by responding to this email.

— Camille 

In their own words. 

JILL GOLDMAN, special education, West Haven, Connecticut
After Goldman placed a student functioning well below grade level in a self-contained classroom, he was named Student of the Quarter at their school.

LIAT OLENICK, seventh grade, New York City 
She’s the reason that, if elected, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says she’d choose a public school educator as U.S. education secretary.  

BARBARA GOTTSCHALK, elementary school, Troy, Michigan
During her first year, Gottschalk says she was bullied by students in her small Nebraska town. But she didn’t let that stop her. During more than 40 years as an educator, she taught in five states and Japan. In retirement, she’s writing a book on improving instruction for English language learners.

MEHREEN BUTT, high school, Nashville, Tennessee
Butt has helped to build an award-winning computer science program at a Nashville charter school – and she’s doing it in part for other young women of color like her

ELIZABETH MENDOZA, middle school, New York City 
The self-proclaimed “everything teacher” recently retired after 35 years at the same Brooklyn middle school. In a wide-ranging conversation, she explains what people get wrong about teaching middle school and what still made her nervous even after decades in the classroom. 

Other stories you might have missed.

SCHOOL DESEGREGATION The topic was propelled into national attention after Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed over school integration at the first round of Democratic presidential debates in June. It’s also bringing attention to legislation that could fund integration efforts. More

THE EDUCATION OF XQ One of the best-funded school reform initiatives has struggled to translate its spending and unconventional strategy into widespread attention to its cause. More

EXIT INTERVIEW After 35 years in New York City’s public school system, instructional guru Phil Weinberg spoke with Chalkbeat about what he learned, his philosophy for managing instruction across more than 1,500 schools, and a resurgence in the debate about whether schools are teaching reading correctly. More

A YEAR IN REVIEW Students on Chicago’s Near North Side lived through an unusual and high-stakes initiative this year: a community-driven effort to meld two schools into one. More

CAMPAIGN 2020 Here’s where the Democratic presidential candidates stand on education issues. More


Mathematical Mindsets” by Jo Boaler. Recommended by Seth Headrick, a middle school math teacher in Denver. “There isn’t a better resource for math teachers. Boaler expounds on the idea that math tasks should be open, visual, and creative in a way that provides a blueprint for identifying (and creating) tasks that unleash the potential of all students.”

The Benefits of being an Octopus” by Ann Braden. Recommended by David Smith, bilingual teacher-librarian in Lafayette, Colorado. “It is one of the best books I have ever read that takes a close look at the perspective of a child living in poverty.”

Do you have a reading recommendation for other educators? Let us know what it is and why you liked it, and it may get featured in a future newsletter. Just send Ann an email at aschimke@chalkbeat.org or fill out this short form.