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, January 09, 2007


First day back and I had a blast. Roller skating and physics. They go together like peanut butter and bananas or hot dogs and grilled peppers.

I put the skates on after lunch. Huh, what’s going on? What’s Mr. Brownstein up to now? What’s he doin’? Mr. Brownstein, the mad scientist. The buzz alone was worthwhile by itself. Why the skates? my students asked.

Physics, I answered.

And we had a physics lesson and I had a workout.

How do you show the laws of motion? Skate quickly to the door, have someone open it before you run into it—and this wasn’t planned—and keep right on going into the hallway and across the hall and into the door opposite my room that was, thankfully, closed. (An object will continue on a straight line until it hits an obstacle.)

By the way, did I explain I don’t know how to stop in these things—brakes or not?

So I taught gravity (falling) and by showing the weight of gravity in a contest between me and a few of my students. (We lifted our legs up—I still had on these heavy, heavy, heavy skates—and we watched to see who would drop their legs first due to the weight of gravity. They won, but I let them, I think.)

Potential energy and kinetic energy? A snap when you’re skating around the room. I firmly believe everyone of my students can tell you what those two terms mean after my demonstration of an object at rest (me on skates) and an object in motion (me moving on skates).

Of course, we had a chance to study friction, too. No problem. My students worked cooperatively to teach me how to use the brakes. And I got it. I still can’t stop on a dime. I probably can’t stop on a silver dollar or ten one dollar bills lined up ten long, but I did learn to stop.

OK—I get to do this lesson again with my other science class this afternoon. Can’t wait.

And I should tell you every other lesson on the first day back in this new year went just as smooth.

Happy New Year.



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