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.

Friday, December 15, 2006

THE SCIENCE FAIR--PART 2

So here it is, 9:00 and the children are lined up to come inside and I have thirty minutes to go before the science fair begins. We split up my class—they stay outside and have gym with 211—and I go through the final touches.

9:30: Over a hundred projects are on display in the gym and I’m feeling really good about this. One judge does not show, but no problem. The social worker volunteers to take his place and so does a parent volunteer.

One third of the school is in the gym, I’m in charge, the judges are judging—everything is arranged. All I need to do now is walk around and monitor behavior and view all of the projects.

But I made a mistake. There is a seventh grade student who I failed last year and believed beyond reason her pride would not allow her to come back to this school (and I was right until she got kicked out of the school she transferred to in Wisconsin), She is back in the school now—about two weeks—not my room, but I have her for science and reading each day. Last assessment she did the very best in the seventh grade so I did to her what I do to all successful assessors—I placed her name on the classroom website, printed out the page for the outside bulletin board and her mother, and brag about her.

This is the good part. She started doing well with everything. Including assisting younger children on their science projects. She did, in fact, help one student develop a very nice science poster for the science fair just two days ago.

So what do I do? I reward her. I add her to the list of three students from my class to help me monitor and judge the science fair. (I had created a simple rubric for them to use when they judged the primary grades.) And she is great. An objective, but nurturing judge. An excellent monitor. She helps set the projects up. She helps build confidence in the little ones.

And then—

Well, then she accuses an eighth grader of spitting on her. This is not true. I am watching when she walks by the eighth grader. But truth doesn’t matter when you suddenly have an urge to go off. So I lift her off the ground—and she must weigh as much as me (she’s actually bigger than me)—and remove her from the gym through a side door.

I know this girl. So I go to the front door of the gym and stop her from entering through one of the main gym doors. This time I walk her to the office.

She tries to come in a second time and a third and a fourth and a fifth. Each time I have to put her back in the office. How is she getting up and coming to the gym each time is beyond me, but she is. After the fifth time, after I assist her to a seat in the office again, after I shut the door behind me, I go to the cafeteria to reconfirm the lunch schedule. And when I come back into the gym—to the largest science fair I ever compiled—to one of the best I have ever run—there was Big Stanley, one of the judges, pushing two girls out the door.

She has escaped from the office a sixth time and has grabbed the eighth grader who has no choice really but to defend herself. So here I am, next to Big Stanley, pushing the girls out of the gym.

And that’s where it should have ended. There is already a police officer in the office. He comes running out to see what the commotion is. And then all of us are knocked together by the rush of students joining the fray.

Suddenly the allies of the seventh grader are in the hall jumping on the eighth grader. This, in turn, brings every family member of the eight grader into the hall.

I have to admit. The police are on it. Suddenly everywhere I look there is an officer. But I am still in the middle of everything. Freeing this girl from this boy. Getting hit on the head eight or ten times forcing another girl from—who knows. Once I even have to move an officer out of the way because he cannot stop two girls tugging each other’s hair.

In the end I am hit in the head too many times to count. My back hurts. My hand feels wrong. I actually order the police to move the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s to two different rooms in two diametrically opposed directions. I go back to the gym. Order everyone to their places. Everyone runs. Everyone is quiet. I ask for the police to round up the students who were in the fight who are still in the gym. They are removed.

In the office two girls are in handcuffs.

“Who started it?” one officer asks me and I point to the seventh grader who promptly begins to curse up a thunderstorm and a tornado and a few hurricanes for extra effect and then she spits in the policeman’s face.

Nothing else to talk about. She is on her way to jail. The eight grader comes back shortly thereafter and takes up her spot in the science fair. And my adrenalin rush fails and I feel every blow to my head and I go to the bathroom and I shut the door and collapse on the floor.

Collapse.

And stay there, my hands on the ground, my head bowed, and I cannot breathe, I cannot think, I cannot do anything at all.

And I stay that way for a long time.

And that’s how the science fair ended.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Donor said...

So, do you get hazard pay for this? It reminds me of this saying "no good deed goes unpunished", don't know where I first heard that but it seems to apply here, unfortunately. Despite our best efforts some people just do not chage, how sad. Will you tell us more about the fair, who won etc. Hope so. I think by now you're ready for the holiday break :)

11:38 AM  
Blogger A Teacher's Log said...

We had four upper grade winners--a sixth grader, a seventh grader, and two eighth graders even though one of the eighth graders told me she would rather fight than be in the science fair. The intermediate had a winner and a six-way tie for second. All in all a great fair until the fight.

12:35 PM  
Blogger A Teacher's Log said...

We had four upper grade winners--a sixth grader, a seventh grader, and two eighth graders even though one of the eighth graders told me she would rather fight than be in the science fair. The intermediate had a winner and a six-way tie for second. All in all a great fair until the fight.

12:35 PM  

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