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.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


An anonymous donor sent us two checks for $250 each. I appreciate it a whole lot. The money will go for the development of a character education program. It’s much needed here.

(Yesterday, for example, I found myself rushing into the eighth grade classroom because of screams and ugly laughter. A student was actually punching the substitute teacher who was twice her size and trying very hard to restrain herself from punching the girl back. My first problem was getting to the fight through some of the girls who purposely blocked my way. I found myself physically removing students. Fortunately the girl calmed a little bit and I was able to get her across the hall into my classroom to join my class and the other three students who were earlier removed from their classrooms and placed in my room.)

My class, as usual, did brilliantly. The other seventh grade class also shined like the stars they can be. I believe almost every student in the class is on my classroom’s homepage for excellence.

We had to cancel our field trip. My rule about field trips is hard and fast. If a child walks out of the room without permission, that month’s field trip is cancelled. A child walked out. The trip is cancelled.

Here, in fact, are our posted rules:

Classroom Rules

No talking without permission.

No touching each other. Touching leads to fighting. No fighting is tolerated at all.

No signifying.

Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

Follow the rules of the school.


If you have a question, ask. You cannot learn if you are afraid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who did not ask and never found out the answer.

Respect each other. We are the family of Room 209. As a family, we work together, play together, try together and get along together.

Two and three year olds do not know how to share. This is their developmental stage. This is a seventh grade classroom. We are more mature, able to work out our problems without cursing, fighting or acting ignorant. (Everyone in here knows what ignorant, embarrassing behavior is.)

Everyone has their strong points. Few individuals are good in everything. Remember Albert Einstein, the smartest man in the last century, had serious learning disabilities.

There is no I in the word team. Be considerate of your classmates and help them to strive to do better.

Try your best. Give it your all. Be a champion of learning.


If you break anyone of the classroom rules three times in one day, Mr. Brownstein will go to your house. (You can get your name off the punishment paper if the class behaves in the hallways and prep classrooms and/or if an adult compliments us anywhere anytime.)

After Mr. Brownstein has made three home visits, he no longer goes to your house. Instead, you will be sent to the office for time-out, parent conferences, and/or suspension.

We will go on a field trip each month. Field trips will be cancelled if anyone in our class has a fight in and around the school property and/or one of our students walks out of a class without permission. (Empasis added.)

Well behaved students or students who are trying extra hard will receive positive home visits or positive home phone calls.

Nonetheless it was a very nice day until the end. My prep was cancelled, a sixth grader in another room has been assigned to me until they decide what they want to do with his disciplinary problems, and, of course, it’s never nice to see children turn against an adult to cause harm. We did review the rules twice more before the day came to an end.

I read somewhere we should be color blind to the skin colors of our students. I know this cannot truly really happen. Unfortunately, even though I would love to say we can be color blind, we cannot. There is too much racism, we have to force our students of color to work to a higher standard because they have to know how to compete harder, and we must understand white folk’s middle “classness” does not always correspond with poverty and all of the issues poverty brings into a family. I feel fairly strongly about this. I feel we can teach middle class values, but we must also always be aware of the culture and the problems minorities face day to day. I’ll write more on this later.

The student who attacked the teacher lives with her grandmother and ten other grandchildren. I have an issue with the state giving legal custody as foster children to a parent who raised a family already--and failed--and is now trying to raise the grandchildren of her failed children. When she was younger and stronger, she could not handle it. Now frail and older, how can we expect her to do the job better a scond time? We can't. This particular parent, by the way, had six children all of whom are now either in jail or so strung out on drugs they have made a jail inside of themselves. Of course, I'll write more on this later.

My personal kids still are not in the new high school and I’ll write more on this later, too. Fortunately they have classes with the University of Missouri High School Program.

Anyway, we received five hundred dollars from an anonymous donor who resides in Idaho and the final order from NASCO came in (paid through a grant I wrote last year) and Scholastic sent us class books and other great things—many of them free.

A good day for the most part.


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