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.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Friday afternoon the office buzzed my room. We’re sending an aide to you so you can take an important phone call,

Only emergency phone calls are this urgent. I rush to the phone. It's the teacher’s union. They can’t read my writing. It’s a problem of a change of address. I’m immediately relieved.

But as soon as I hang up the phone, it rings. So I answer it. It’s the security guard. Why’s he calling the school? He’s in the school.

And he tells me. The fight from yesterday happened again at 8:30 in the morning. He got hit in the head this time. He had enough. He’s not in the school. He went home. He wants to quit. A bunch of girls who don’t even go to the school invaded the front office and the fight that began after the science fair began again.

Nine police cars. One security guard, the assistant principal—a woman, by the way—and a former woman teacher tried to break it up. Thankfully the police are there within seconds. It was as if they were waiting. A lot of people are handcuffed and sent to jail.

The security guard wants to transfer to another school. I end the phone call by convincing him to give the school one more chance. One more chance.

One more chance.

Do you know how it feels to want to cry? This is what I’m thinking as I say it over and over.

One more chance. One more chance.

He said OK and then I went back upstairs to work—my class full of my students, three students from next door and two boys who wanted to fight on the first floor. I don’t even get a chance to sit down. A sub is in the hall yelling my name. Yelling it. OK—this is how it continues.


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