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 14, 2007


We didn’t have a snow day. My high school children did. Not us. Chicago schools were open and the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing and only one front door—the one near the office—opened easily without having to push against the piles of snow.

We had a field trip planned when the rest of the area was having a snow day—so it was cancelled. Child after child came to me with trip slips and I had to tell them it was cancelled. On the first floor, three teachers did not make it in—the storm was that bad. Others came in late or took the subway and were late.

My classes were angry they did not have a trip to go on. They had lunches and extra money and they were ready. The weather was not. We didn’t have a snow day like my children’s school and we didn’t have a field trip either.

Only a few students were absent on the second floor and somehow all of the teachers made it in who teach on the second floor. I could not finish my lesson on THE SKELETON MAN, the novel we are reading with one of my classes. I did not get to make the chemical reaction with one of my classes. I did not get to go over the research with my students because some of them were angry.

No snow day. No field trip. You mean we have to do work?

OK—we aren’t having a snow day today either. The front door of the school is blocked in by snow so we have to enter in from the back. The snow blower is hard at work removing the snow and I think the sidewalks will be clear by 8:00. The roads in Chicago are clear. The highways are awake and well, thank you. The trains I take to work are all on time and on schedule and I made every connection.

North of the city, my children have a late start day. Ten inches of snow fell where I live. No snow day for them today. They go to school after 10.

It’s actually hot in my classroom. We’re directly over the ancient boilers and they are running fulltime now. Tonight it’s supposed to go to zero. Too much heat can’t be a bad thing.

As I stood in the thick snow after school—the after school programs were cancelled— sending children on their way home—myself and one other security officer—one of the parents told me, “We won’t be in school tomorrow. This weather is ridiculous.”

I came from the northside to the southside to get here. Is it so hard to walk two blocks?


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