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, January 22, 2007


A few decades ago when Michael Jordan was out there teaching the world how to play basketball, Chicago won a few championships. It was great for the Bulls, of course, (they earned extra money), it was great for the mayor (he won his bet with the opposing team’s mayor), it was great for the vendors hawking t shirts and hats and everything else (obviously) and it was great for the city—our tax on hotels and rented cars is 18 percent.

It wasn’t great for a number of schools. All over celebrants decided shooting guns into the air and whooping and hollering and hugging everyone nearby was just not enough. They had to break into local schools and vandalize everything in their sight, too.

This happened when I was working at Farren. Farren has been closed by the board because of a number of issues—perhaps the fact that its enrollment was so far down because the city ordered the destruction of the housing projects that supplied Farren with its students is one of the reasons. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the night the Bulls won the championship, the night the Bears won the Superbowl, the night the White Sox (oops—no one seemed to really care about the White Sox victory), Farren along with a number of other schools was broken into and many classrooms were thrown into total disarray.

Much to my happiness—and another teacher named Mr. Dynis—our two rooms were the only rooms untouched. To this day I can’t really tell you why. But back then as Dynis and I helped everyone else put the pieces back together, it sure did feel good not having anyone damage our rooms.

Yesterday the Bears won their division and I entered my school just a little bit worried. Guess what? Nothing was amiss. Nothing. And so I thought to myself, this might just be the beginning of another great week at a school full of learners and my classroom—a classroom of learners. But we still have the bullying problem. Couldn’t solve it on Friday because the main suspects had to go out of the school to get their eyes checked for free glasses. (I sent five though really ten of my students could benefit from a new pair of glasses.)

So today we stop the bullying. Today we get on with the important work. Today my class will get back on the road they exited a little while ago and become the best and the brightest in the school.



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