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.

Name:
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, October 17, 2006

HELP!!!

So it happens. You think of something aloud and it comes true. So far I have not had to send a single child out of the classroom until yesterday. Friday morning I wrote about how nice my class is and then I had to make a negative home visit. Monday morning I wrote about the bully from Friday and the bully acts up in class. So everything comes to pass.

We no longer have a special needs department for upper grade students. We have inclusion. (For those of you who do not know what this means, inclusion is when special need students are placed full time in regular education classrooms with some kind of support.) I wrote the Least Restricted Environment Grant for my school, so I feel I should be able to model an inclusive classroom. Some of the time it’s too hard.

I have been trying to teach my students to ignore negative behavior. Too often negative behavior is the only behavior that gets certain children’s attention. I remember a student from long ago who always got a dollar when he was bad. After awhile, no teacher wanted to call his mother for a conference. I asked him once, “If you get a dollar for being bad, don’t you think you’d get a much bigger award for being good?” He told me it didn’t matter. Being bad always worked. Why ruin a good thing. The postscript to that tale is he is in jail for life as is his sister and mother. What did he do? A few murders. The sister and mother? Just about everything else.

Anyway one of my students could not ignore the negative behavior and this set one of her classmates into a cursing fit. It wasn’t that the classmate wouldn’t stop. It appeared that he couldn’t stop. So I asked another student to get security and security came and took him out. (In the afternoon, the child was much better behaved, but that may be because we were dissecting sheep eyeballs.)

At lunch I went to check my mail and there was a kindergartner having a full weight temper tantrum—kicking and crying and waving his arms all over the place. The principal asked if I could calm him down, and I succeeded for over a half hour, but then he went back to wanting to have his own way which included running out of my classroom—yes, we were back in my room by this time—and causing all kinds of confusion. When his mother came to pick him up an hour later—after I recruited two adult volunteers to help me with him, the child’s older brother and one nurturing student—we escorted him downstairs to the office (and he was very reluctant—trying to run the other way, etc.) to where his mother waited, belt in hand, wanting to know where she could find the nearest bathroom with a door that locked.

So how did I end my day? I walked one of my students home—for good news. The man who answered the door was one of my former students. I told him how will his sister was doing in school and he broke into a smile as large as his face.

All in all not a bad end to a day.

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