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, November 21, 2006


We held the first part of the seventh and eighth grade classroom science fair last week and for the first time I can remember, we only had a one demonstration, three who did experiments that were not allowed (I guess we still have to work on listening skills) and a few that were too basic (how fast does water boil if you add salt, for example). But, for the most part, the experiments were well done and I selected seventy-seven students out of ninety to go to the next level. Can’t wait. We’re growing crystals in cola, removing rust with Mountain Dew, discovering which toothpaste is the most effective in stopping mold grown in a Petri dish on a tomato paste medium. It’s just too cool.

We voted off the Local School Council member who I wrote about before—the parent from Hell—in a unanimous decision. Remember: She was the one who instigated the series of fights that culminated with the mace incident. And I still have taste receptors trying to forget how ugly mace tastes. She does have a right to appeal. Can’t imagine why she should. But then, if you can tell your child they must fight no matter what no matter where they are and no matter what the consequences may be, anything is possible.

Friday we had a few teachers out and it was chaos on the second floor. Another teacher and I had to race between two rooms over and over. The substitutes had no control. I think substitute school needs a section on when to let a battle go in order to win the war.

We’re reading “Morella” by Edgar Allan Poe and the class is really getting into it. They understand how Poe’s characters are moody and crazy and oftentimes in love for the wrong reasons. You have to see their author studies and their critiques. Brilliant!

Tomorrow I take my class and a group of third graders to the North Park Nature Preserve. Can’t wait.

Hope everyone out there reading this has a nice holiday and a little empathy for the turkey.

I have to go on outdoor duty now. Three hundred plus students and me and one security guy. Incredible odds, but we have held down the fort for so long now, when a fight is starting to brew, just walking to it cools everyone off. And yesterday a fight was stopped by one of my students—

“Stop with this he says/she says stuff. You’re both beautiful and smart. I want to go on the field trip. You know if we have a fight, the trip’s cancelled.”

Both girls did not hear the last part. They only heard the smart and beautiful part.

“And another thing,” my student said, “you know no matter what, you’ll be friends in an hour.”

Some time’s life is good. No fight. Still good friends.


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