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, April 27, 2007


So were studying the biographies of a few famous poets and then critiquing one or more poems to see if we can trace influences from their life to their poetry and so far it’s going really well. Many of my students wrote how Wallace Steven’s life of loneliness seemed to have a major impact on his poem, “Disillusionment at Ten O’clock.” Almost every student saw the tragedies in Robert Frost’s family life as a very important theme in his poem, “Out Out.” I liked the way they were able to correlate the idea of life goes on after a child dies in an accident. And my students discovered in William Carlos Williams someone they might want to be right at this moment. Each day my students’ essays have been better and better.

Today we do Allen Ginsberg—I’ll read the first few lines of “Howl”—and Rita Dove. Can’t wait.

Science was harder. We were trying to discover the difference between a scientist and a technologist. Perhaps the hand-out was too vague. Don’t know. Nonetheless, working in cooperative groups, eighty percent of the class did well. I’ll try again today.

So where does the hideous and the bad come in. We had an alleged gang incident after school Wednesday and I met with one of the parents after school Thursday so we can rein it in before it escalates. I didn’t appreciate overhearing a few of the upper grade students plans to jump parents and children after school because of the incident. Didn’t have to worry though. It started raining right at dismissal so there were no incidents at all.

I also learned to ignore the temper tantrum of one of my seventh graders. (He transferred to my class from another room a few weeks ago.) Well, not exactly learned. I just decided not to give him any attention for negative behavior and after fifteen minutes he realized no one really cared—except for my bully who cannot stand for another bully to bully her. So he raised his voice and added some interesting words, looked my way, and saw that I was into something else and he sat down and did all of his work.

Victory? No. But I’m trying.

Anyway today is the teacher/student basketball game and I’m in it. So wish me luck cause I can’t play basketball even a little bit. Now field hockey? That’s an entirely different matter.


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