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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


We’re at my college class for teachers seeking a science endorsement and here comes one of the teachers.

“What a day. I suspended eight kids from my class.” He takes his seat and looks around the room. “Two girls wanted to fight. They’re the hardest to break up. You can’t just grab them anywhere.”

He pauses.

“My school is just a lawsuit getting ready to happen,” he continues to no one in particular though all of us were listening.

He pauses again.

“At least the boys are easier. You have at least three minutes lead time before you have to get between them. They got to bump chests and get into each other’s face. Girls? Now that’s another story all together.”

He stands, removes his coat. It’s spring in Chicago and it’s raining and it’s cold. Outside it already looks like dusk.

“My mother teaches in the inner city of Philadelphia. She called me last night to tell me yesterday was the worst day of teaching in her career. It’s not getting better.”

Then class starts and he doesn’t speak for a long time. When he does, it is a question about stem cells. After that he opens up a bit more, but you can tell the melancholy of the day—of his second year as a teacher—weighs itself down on him heavier than stone.


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