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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


After I spent too much time collecting field trip slips, after I worked out problems with a few teachers who have been sick and came to school the day of the trip, after the confusion of lining up a hundred students from a half dozen classrooms, after trying to get one adult for every ten children, after all of this we headed out to the Sears Center to see the Chicago Storm play an indoor soccer game. (They call it football.)

If you read this blog, you will remember one of my students explained to me in the after school program why the upper grade students will not do anything else in gym except play basketball: “We’re African-American. We only play basketball.”

So I turned his statement into research. We had a flurry of sports related projects, met with Nicole Long from the Chicago Storm, and then we settled into the long bus ride to Hoffman Estates to watch the “Chicago” Storm take on the Rockford team.

We arrived right on time—after the introductions and the singing of the national anthem. We had a blast.

The game was as exciting as Nicole had told us it would be. At one time I took a group of about twenty students to empty front row right next to the action—the ball shooting past us with nose breaking speed, men knocked incredibly hard into the sides of the playing field, the sweat and struggle to win painted on every feature of their faces.

Before we left the school a great number of students were going on the trip because, well, because it was a trip. After the first quarter, one of my students was whooping it up and she was contagious. Students were dancing and cheering and yelling and having a great time. They were learning about a new game and they liked what they saw. Some of them even asked the gym teacher who was on the trip too if they could play indoor soccer when they got back to the school.

Even when we took a break from the game and walked around the Sears Center—and here I have to tell you more than three quarters of the hundred students who went have never seen the inside of any kind of stadium before—the students had a grand experience. At one table outside our seating area, my students lined up to participate in arts and crafts. They pulled out cell phones (even though they’re not allowed in school) to take pictures of themselves with Striker, the Storm mascot. They rushed to where the players were to get autographs. They even took a seat in the club.

The half time show introduced my students to a great number of animals—including a python the trainer draped over the cheerleaders. They walked the python close enough to where we were sitting, we could see into its eyes.

How cool is that!

The game was a part of the school day show so we had to listen to a few make-a-goal-and-keep-it speeches, and overall everything went smooth as ice cream. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

By the way—one of the school’s biggest discipline problems came on the trip, too, and she was one of the best behaved students there. This is why I try to take all of my students on a trip—though this particular student isn’t one of mine. Oftentimes you can learn a whole lot about somebody when you observe them in an entirely different environment. And, yes, she had a great time, too.

Thanks for inviting us.

Oh, and by the way, the Chicago Storm won 21 to 10 and when I entered my classroom, the first thing I saw on the blackboard this morning was a great big heart. Inside of it someone had written, "Mr. Brownstein's 7th grade classroom. Thanks."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't suppose anyone noticed how many black players there were on the team. I have never watched that particular team but do watch international football where a lot of talented players are black. So much for only basketball. I think there should be more field trips. After all a student who is engaged and quieted by a new experience is more open to learning in general. Not to mention that in this case the team concept is a BIG lesson all by itself.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Michael-

Thank you for the wonderful compliments. Can you tell we all love what we do and love to work with children and young adults? We hope they all know with some hard work and dedication they can ALL accomplish their goals just
like these player!

The players said it was one of the best games ever. They said the students energy just pushed them to keep going. They honestly thanked me afterwards for putting this together.

Let me know when we can schedule the assembly. We look forward to visiting your school!

Thank you again for signing up and for your patience as we launched this program for the first time in Chicago. We know there were some glitches and definitely will improve for next year.

I will forward you the 2007-2008 Storming Schools info next month when schools can begin signing up, YEAHHHHH!!!!

Take Care, and have a great second half of the school year!

Thank you,

Nichole Long
Director of Community Relations/Group Sales
Chicago Storm Professional Indoor Soccer
1945 Cornell Ave
Melrose Park, IL 60160

The Chicago Storm Players are "STORMING SCHOOLS"
This educational program will be the talk of your school in 2006-07!
Ask me for more information today!

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I enjoyed reading your blog this morning. It is really interesting to hear the daily issues that come up. I can only imagine trying to get everyone together for a field trip. Sounds like it was worth the effort though and you are to be commended for all your efforts.

Thanks and I hope you get some rest this weekend!

Warm Regards,

Jim B.

Jim Burnette
Grace Educational Resources
1808-C West Diversey Parkway
Chicago, IL 60614

5:47 AM  

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