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 12, 2006

A Reader's Digest Moment

I had a READER’S DIGEST moment. You know the kind. You ask who is buried in Grant’s tomb and someone yells out, Mark Twain. Or a question on a worksheet wants to know where will the survivors be buried if their plane crashes on the Canadian/American border and a few individuals write Mexico. And you wonder where did these answers come from?

OK. We’re studying the development of words and we’re looking at the history of the word “Iowa”. The question before us is where did Iowa get its name and almost every seventh grader wrote the Iowa River named by French settlers. But then we move on and try to discover how Illinois was named. After which Native American Group--the Iowa, Sioux or Illinois people? Why do more than half the class write down Sioux? Then Iowa?

And then the substitute across the hall decides fifteen students are too many. Suddenly I have two eighth graders in my class, the other eighth grade teacher has four and some other teacher has taken in one. I guess we all have our tolerance to pain—verbal or physical—and telling an adult, “Your wig looks like a fine crusted vulture?’ is insulting, but I’m not sure it merited being sent to the office and then to another class. (Remember: the assistant principal, counselor and principal teach computer, physical education and/or library—in addition to all of their other duties.) By 1:30, I had six more students in my class—even if it was only for a short time (though three of them were with me for the larger part of the day).

I know haw hard it is to be a sub. I did it before—and I even did it recently—but how do you manage to get your class down to three students and still have complaints?

Nonetheless, my homeroom—we started changing classes yesterday—is still doing great even if next door has a few problems and the eight grade is in need of some serious character education.


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