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.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Nine degrees when I woke up. The trains were for the most part right on time. Had to wait a bit here and there for my next connection, but I arrived, finally, to the 43rd Street stop and then the wind knocked the breath out of me.

Teaching school was too easy. The small focus groups went well. We had a nice Socratic type discussion. The students need more help with Charles Dickens’s CHRISTMAS CAROL. We seemed to have a bit of confusion when we reached scene five in the theater adaptation of his book. No problem. We’ll just spend more time on it.

Science went as well as I ever could have expected. We built helicopters out of paper and timed their freefall. Then we went into physics and formulas and tried to make sense of what was happening. Once again, success for the most part. My homeroom gets to try tomorrow. I know already it will go even better.

Only one problem: The children came in during the morning. Way too cold to play outside. One girl told me she had to go to the bathroom, but she needed her friend to go with her. We don’t do that. She’s in sixth grade—old enough to go on her own. Then she told me she had ballet. So I sent her there instead. Both girls. A few minutes later they returned after running the halls. I was asked why I had sent them. I told them they told me they had ballet. They didn’t have ballet either.

We are presently debating taking away incentives from students who cannot behave. Should we remove a basketball player for poor grades and/or poor behavior, for example? Should the girl described above be allowed in the After School All Stars Program? Should someone not be permitted to participate in the school-wide science fair if their behavior is poor?

Comments welcomed.


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