A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

News and More News

This is how to start the day on your return to school: Realize suddenly the news you have been hearing about—a man shot in a drive-by—is the close uncle of one of your students.

How does she get up in the morning to come to school?

He is in critical condition—very iffy.

She is worried sick.

Then we have the parent who explains her child away by not saying anything at all. She doesn’t ask why her child cursed. She doesn’t want to know why she was in the wrong room. She’s not even curious about the threats she made. She just nods her head mutely when she is told how her daughter knocked everything off the teacher’s table and ran from the room. She just stands there at the front counter and doesn’t say anything at all.

I am at a loss. What do you say to help her out?


I don’t know.

And then the fight next door: Mr. Brownstein, come quick. We need your help.

Desks strewn every which way. Children out of their seats. The room in disarray. Security called. I’m first, and it’s an easy fight to stop. Just a few verbal directions, the light touch of restraint and security is there, and both boys are going to the office.

I have seen teachers cry more than a few times.

It is getting harder.

But there is good. My sixth graders began their second day of the study of trigonometry. They are sixth and seventh graders. They are engaged. They are struggling. They are taking risks. They are trying to figure out how to find the sine of angle A.

I’m proud of them.

That is how the day ended.



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