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.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I don’t understand what has happened. When I went into teaching thirty some years ago, I knew I wasn’t going to become the richest man in America. In fact, I knew I was going to spend a lot of my own money, spend hours volunteering, and end up doing a lot of things to assist my students with no hopes of ever being compensated.

Yesterday I asked a few teachers if they would like to do the After School All Stars Program after school for two days a week and two hours a day. I’m the coordinator. I’m rather excited about the entire project. We’ll have creative writing classes, dance, drama, and a whole lot more. I’m paying the teachers thirty dollars an hour. Yes, that’s correct—thirty dollars an hour.

“I wouldn’t work for thirty dollars,” one of them told me.

“I never do anything for the Board if it’s not my hourly pay,” said another.

“After School All Stars. No way,” said a third. But then she was told her work on Wednesday nights would be for no pay. She would have to volunteer. “No,” she replied, “I’m supposed to get my hourly pay.” When she was told this would not be happening—the board did not fund her position—then she said, “Oh. OK.” I offered her an hours pay. “But the program is an hour and a half.”

I’m sorry.

At what point did teachers decide this was really just a job, the students customers, and the value of teaching a paycheck?

Thirty years ago I knew I’d make a comfortable living as a teacher. I never aspired to be a principal. I went after my masters to become a better teacher. I write grants to make my classroom and school a better place. I even pick certain workshops to assist me in doing a better job. School starts in an hour. I’ll be here past four. I always am.

Somehow the passion of teaching has gone to the wayside.

This may be the biggest problem in teaching today—at least in the large urban inner city school system I work for.


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