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, February 26, 2007


The morning went smoothly, but I could not finish my science lesson. My homeroom was next door and I had my other class. We were studying a handout about the migration of the wildebeest, but I was not able to continue.

We have a few teachers who have taken a few days off due to illness and I have been the lucky one to take the problem children. Lucky? No, I think unlucky is the better word. The substitutes can’t handle them so they come to me. Again and again and again.

I guess I’m tired. It’s time I learned to say no.

It’s hard to watch a twelve year old meet up with an older boy—a high school teenager—and then walk down the street with their arms around each other. One of my students changes whenever she loses her boyfriend. But she doesn’t know what it is to have a boyfriend. Sex is not a boyfriend. I’m sorry. It’s not. My students are too young, but they don’t know this.

So why is this blog called the cursing carnival?

Because I had a lot planned, but suddenly the girl placed in my room from another class could not—would not—be quiet, the boy placed in my room from another class could not sit still, the girl I worry about because she’s not old enough to do what she is doing could not stop whispering and then the cursing boy began to curse and curse and curse.

I stopped teaching. I called his mother. She asked me why I had lied to her. I didn’t understand.

Why did you tell me he does all of his work? she asked, but I never told her this. I told her he only does his work when he is in the room supervised closely by another adult.

What time do you get to school? she asked and I told her seven AM.

She said she would be at my school at seven. Great. I tell her he curses up a storm and all she can tell me is I am a liar.

That’s not the question. Her son has been cursing for days and days and no punishment seems to work. I mean what is a suspension really but a few days off to play video games and watch television?

I usually go to the home of my irate and misbehaving students, but I’m tired.

Yes, that’s it. (But I’m up for suggestions on how to stop these problems.)

And then after school suddenly too many girls are yelling and cursing and threatening each other. I am the only adult from the school outside. I already had to hear the parent tell her six year old son to kick the girl’s --- if she messed with him again and I had to deal with the mother who was angry because a boy wanted to punch her daughter—and what could I do about it—and…and…

No, I’m tired.

But I do have a great field trip planned for tomorrow. There’s always something.


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