The Classrooms of Chicago

This photo essay features images of educators and students from more than a dozen schools in Chicago, by documentary photographer Marc Monaghan. Here’s what’s behind the essay, in his words:

When I started this project I expected I would see teachers, administrators, and support staff engaged in meaningful ways in their work. I imagined that I would see the consequences of their efforts in the physical set up of the classrooms, the pacing of lessons, in classroom management and in the engagement of students. I saw all of that. I witnessed care, dedication and professionalism, minute after minute, hour after hour, throughout the full day I spent with each of most of the teachers.

I was surprised at how fully the teachers supported the work I was doing. They let me do what I needed to do. They gathered releases from parents and guardians, contacting them after hours and on weekends. They read my caption notes for accuracy. In their help, I felt their desire to be seen and understood.

The teachers I observed exhibited superb executive functioning skills, inquisitive minds and care for their students; they got tired during the day and they worked diligently. During the process of photographing these classrooms and schools, my understanding of the work teachers, administrators and support staff do and my respect for them as professionals was reinforced and deepened. I hope this is revealed in this collection of images.

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