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, December 19, 2006


Monday morning. Reading. We’re doing Charles Dickens, THE CHRISTMAS CASROL, and I’m way up for this. I have divided by classes into small five to six people focus groups. We're discussing the segment with the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come.

And it’s great.

“Do they have the right to steal?” I ask.

My students search the text. They spout their own opinions. Yes, they feel, in this case it can be justified.

But does the text justify it? Is there any rationale offered that allows for stealing?

Scrooge is laid out on his bed. He’s dead. The three individuals he employs are rifling through his stuff. He’s dead. What will he care? But then one of the students explains that he is in the room. Didn’t the charwoman just remove his sleeping cap from his dead head?

When is stealing OK?

And we go all over the place. One group justifies the stealing because of poverty and greed. Who will get Scrooge’s stuff? Why can’t it be them?

A second group hears a strong argument for when stealing is OK. If it’s on the ground, why can’t you just take it? But what if you know who it belongs to? Doesn’t matter. They left it on the ground. It’s up for grabs. But isn’t your book bag in the closet on the ground? According to you, it’s OK for me to take and keep.

And each group goes around and around.

I have to prompt some groups and others I just sit back and listen.

In the end every group concurs: Stealing is wrong. There is no justification for it. It does not matter how evil Scrooge was. It doesn’t matter how moral and/or Christian his workers are. All that matters is stealing is wrong.

And then I ask: Is Scrooge responsible for Tiny Tim’s death?

And everything begins again.

A great day!

Now I should tell you how we solve physics equations by hand and then utilize the calculator.

Nah. There's nothing to talk about.

We solve a number of equations in the afternoon and my seventh grade students are into it and I guess all I can say is the day becomes even more great.

How cool is that.


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