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.

Friday, February 09, 2007


We have had three really nice things happen during the last two weeks. A rep came by from a science book company and I received a commitment from her for additional material when we place our order.

Derrick Robinson, a doctor from the ER at the University of Chicago Hospitals, came into the room and read to us as part of the Real Men Read Program. He was great. He read a story about foster children and then told us about his life and trials.

Nicole Long from the Chicago Storm, a professional soccer team, dropped off soccer curriculums and a hundred tickets to attend a game from the Kids-4-Soccer Foundation. She hung around and fielded questions from the students in one of my classes. She even made a bet with one of the boys: “If the game is not physical enough for you,” she said, “I’ll give you a soccer ball autographed by the team.” She was great.

So why am I tired?

Long ago I learned people really do want the public schools to succeed. They come to the schools and hope to leave with a satisfying experience. The children are engaged, they’re good listeners, they obviously care. No one wants to leave a school thinking what’s wrong with that class? Why are they so rude? Did I hear someone curse?

I go to my students homes for good news and bad. I made two home visits two evenings ago. Good news and bad. I made another last night.

Every good thing that happened in my classroom—the science lady, Derrick Robinson from Real Men Read (sponsored by Concordia), and Nicole Long from the Chicago Storm bringing us good news from the Kids-4-Soccer Foundation—was interrupted by one student. She couldn’t stop talking or giggling or eating. During these visits she went totally into another zone—so loud I had to remove her from her place and sit her with me—and I knew, I just knew, my visitor was not thinking kindly of the class I call “the best in the school”. Furthermore, it was never her fault. Never.

I thought she would apologize and quiet down when I walked her and her little sister home. But, no. She ranted and raged and raved and then raged some more until I left her and went to her house by myself.

This is why I am tired. If you are looking for money for your class or a special project (mentors, for example), inviting the individuals into your classroom makes a lot of difference. I’ve raised thousands of dollars without even writing a word. A phone call, an invitation to my classroom, an acceptance to visit, and usually everything flows. My class understands, problems are resolved ahead of time, students are engaged active listeners and even if they don’t care, they look like they do.

No one wants to punish an entire class over a disruptive student. It just happens that one bad apple does ruin the bushel; one moldy piece of paper destroys the paper behind it; one person yawns, others yawn too.
You get the point.

I’m tired.


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