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, May 31, 2007


Yesterday I did not go to my teaching job because I attended my son’s high school graduation. It was both interesting and confusing, but I’m proud of him and I’m glad he’s my son.

He worked really hard—was actually number one in his class a few times his senior year—and he has his future mapped out.

I had a few concerns before we entered the great room. He had been totally neglected by his yearbook—not mentioned anywhere. Calls to his teachers so I could make a videotape honoring him were returned when I was at work. His principal, a Mr. Freeman, promised me he would have him come down to his office for a talk—he had heard so many good things about my son. He did not keep his promise. My son’s graduation outfit was listed to someone named Karen. His name is Korey.

But it all worked out. He was in the program, we took pictures, and everything went well—though I still have issues with some of the parents who were really rude. At one point, when the President of the School Board was speaking, a great booing erupted in the stands all around me. They were booing because security confiscated a beach ball that suddenly began to bounce from row to row of graduates. He stopped, looked around, thought they were booing him, and then realized they were not. Later a teacher had to harshly speak to a row of parents behind me because they had purchased more balloons and they wanted them in the air.

Nothing like not hearing a speech—no matter how boring—because a row of adults is yelling, “Hit it. Lift it up. Come on. Keep it going. Hit it. Don’t let them get it.”

My son was given flowers by his sister and he promptly passed them out to girls he knew. The smiles on their face were well worth the money I spent on the roses.

That’s how I spent my day yesterday.

Today I gave my students a chance to catch up on missing work—and that went very, very well.

Except for the boy who does nothing. “Why can’t I go on the field trip?” he shouted at me, as if that would change my mind.

I just said, “You’re failing. This will give you an entire day to catch up on everything you missed.”

He let out a curse, and I moved away. (This was after school when we were dismissing the children, and it began to rain.)

Only two weeks left.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day and Teaching School

"In a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, (Cindy)Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.

She wrote that she is disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad . His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace.

But in Monday's 1,200-word letter, titled, "Good Riddance Attention Whore," Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing."

"I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful," she wrote. "Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives."--May 29, 2007


I never went to war. Korea ended a year before I was born and we lost the war in Viet Nam the year I began college. I never had the hard comfortable friendships true battle inspires and I never had comrades passionate enough to link into that all purpose male code—one man laying his life down for another. No, not me. I never had that.

But fake wars? That’s another story. The war on drugs, for instance. I was on the frontlines, a war that threw so much money at itself, it imploded filling prisons and creating cottage industries for curriculum products for every school and community in the nation. It never ends. Just one more victim and one more prisoner and one more person I know who was in the wrong place at the wrong time sending their lives into a spiral downwards so quickly the very system that wants to help has tied them into so many knots, it cannot.

I fought in the war against poverty—still do, in fact—and know this war too can never be won. We need poverty for the jobs it gives to us and for the cheap labor and for every gooey Hallmark Christmas story.

There have been other fake wars in my lifetime. Some were firecracker fads, some burnt themselves out under their own weight, and others were so ignored they just vanished and no one remembers.

The good in fake wars is your nightmares are never bloody. You don’t wake suddenly in a cold sweat. You never scream out in the middle of the night. At no time do you suddenly slip into a foxhole and find yourself crawling over bodies and pieces of bodies to get away. The participants of fake wars come and go as their interest dictates, not like soldiers who are stationed there waiting for the boredom to become one huge siege of adrenaline and leave with enough material for nightmares for life. No, most fake warriors are never made to stay. Some are in it for a week, some a month, some a year or two. Others make it their life—but they are rare. They become emergency room doctors. Inner city cops. Undercover narcotic operatives.

I became a teacher.

I am not talking about a two-year teacher either—two years in, a best selling book, author signings, TV talk shows. Nor am I talking about teachers who become teachers because this is all they felt they could do. Teaching for a paycheck, in other words. Then there are those who start in the classroom because all they really want is the most direct way to a desk in the board offices. They should have applied there to begin with. Teaching is not about money. It is about passion. I became a teacher because teaching is what I needed to do. The fact that they pay me to do it makes it all that much greater. Not too many people can say they get paid for their hobby.

I can.

So I wish you luck, Cindy Sheenan. It's a hard road, and it gets harder, and I hope you find your way back to it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Thursday and the sun is shining, a cool breeze comes across the playground and today is going to be a great day.

How can it not be?

A few field trips (so I’ll probably be holding a half dozen not nice children), a few teachers away on smaller field trips (and their class gets to stay behind) and a few irate parents (because children shouldn’t go on incentive field trips if they are failing).

Oh, well.

Another day, another fifteen cents.

But everything has been quiet, learning has been going on, students are actively trying to get hundreds, and the stem cell research project is on course and doing well. Our study of graphic novels ends today, and I believe my students really enjoyed reading them. I purchased a few sharks for dissection, and we may try to work on them this afternoon. No fights after school or before—just a lot of kids being kids and playing well together.

Someone stole the basketball hoop from our playground, so football and baseball have taken over. This is a good thing—playing other sports, not the stolen basketball hoop. My reading scores came back and everyone improved. This, too, is a good thing. A teacher nominated me for the DRIVE Award. I guess things are looking up.

It’s going to be a nice, sunshiny day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Monday, and my class began to work on graphic novels. Five weeks more of school, it's time for a break.

When two boys start to think to fight--and my students never fight (at least not in my room)--I did the only thing possible. (You can only ask for them to sit down and separate three times. If they can't listen, well...)

I knocked the garbage can down. The noise startled them into sanity. They sat then.

And the rest of the day--peace and quiet and quiet and peace--with the exception of one student who so badly wanted to fight one of his classmates so I kept the child with me even though neither one belonged to my room and that just shut off the valve for more craziness.

And then we did something fun and enjoyable and the kids really enjoyed themselves:

We dissected a sheep's eyeball with new dissection tools.

202nd Blog--and it continues and continues and continues

Friday came in with a wallop and stayed there like a headache in need of something really strong. Darvon perhaps.

So many teachers out and so few substitutes. By 1:50 the entire class (well, not everyone—five remained in the classroom) next door was in my room. The substitute started sending children to me at 9:15. When I heard the door slam so hard it raised everyone’s headache a decibel or two forty five minutes later, I walked out to see who he was sending to me now and—

Something’s are better left alone, but you have to do what you have to do cause some time’s that’s the only option you have.

The biggest boy in the next door room was already running for his life down the hallway. The biggest bully—and you read about her here a number of times—was chasing him with a scissors. Yelling at the top of her lungs, the scissors held high, I could not believe how fast she could run.

The security guard jumped from her seat and vanished. Unbelievable. When the boy reached me, the scissor wielding girl only a few yards away, I grabbed him hard at the shoulder and threw him into my classroom, slamming the door and turning just in time to be smashed by the girl as she slammed into me and the door, The scissors made contact with the wood missing my hand by mere inches.

She stepped back, the scissors in her hand held so tight blood was changing the color of her fingernails, and told me in no uncertain terms I had better open the door or—and all I could think to do was stand there and block her as the boy stood behind the wooden door. (At least he didn’t go near the window. I’m positive she would have shattered it.) I called out to anyone—as I was the only one outside in the hallway—to press the button and call for security. I yelled it again and again. Surprisingly, as I watched this girl prance and dance and scream before me, the scissors in a dangerous death hold, her face ferocious with anger and pain, I actually was able to keep count of how many times I called for help before I finally saw a teacher rise up and press the intercom for help.

The security guard? I don’t know where she went.

The sub? He was behind a closed door blocking it.

Help arrived a few minutes later (at least eight individuals) and the girl released the scissors. It wasn’t easy and I never once left my position at the door even when she tried to get through one more time.

In the end, I asked one of my students to wet a few paper napkins so the boy could stop the blood flowing from scratches at his neck. Then his uncle picked him up and her grandmother picked her up and—

By 1:50 I had my class and everyone in the room next door but five students and a student from a class down the hall and a few other children.

And that was my day…

Friday, May 18, 2007

201st Blog--Part 2

It took the security officer and me maybe a minute or so to break up this fight. Security threw the offending child over his shoulder and dragged him downstairs. The other boy—my student—shook it off and walked to the library (the opposite direction) with the help of an aide.

The police were called.

The offender was handcuffed when they arrived and the rest of my day was spent in the office where I was asked if I wanted to press charges, but never given the opportunity.

When the offender’s mother showed up, she was hysterical—or at least that’s how it appeared. She was shaking and crying and she had to be supported by two other adults.

When the police decided not to arrest her son—two hours later, and I was not allowed into this conversation—suddenly she was a new woman. Smiling. No more tears, no shaking, a light flip in her step.

Yeah, right.

I’ve seen acting before and I guess I will again.

This is how it goes.

Before the day was over, I found myself between three more incidents. Students kept on coming to the office sent by their teachers from 1:30 until the end of the day.

“I’m here cause I don’t want to fight.”

“I’ll kill her. Let me loose.”

“OK, so I cursed out the sub. What’s the big deal?”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

In the end, the offender in my fight earned a three day suspension. One of my students had a tantrum in front of the assistant principal and she earned herself a day. Another student from another class would not stop—she earned herself five days.

A seventh grader who thought he could get in a sub’s face ended up with a parent conference.

Grand Central Station at the office.

I was asked to go to 106 and help with the dismissal because they were so out of control—and they were, but they left the building without any real problems.
OK. Now it’s time to go home and I’m geared and ready with both security officers for a flurry of fights—but, just as the classes begin to dismiss, a baby in her mother’s arms reaches out to the fire alarm and—yes, you guessed it—pulls it bringing in three fire trucks.

No problem at dismissal. Every teacher is outside.

And then it began to drizzle.

Tomorrow—or Monday: Part 3.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

200th Blog

My last posting—May 10th—was my 199th blog. I really wanted very badly to have a positive blog for the two-hundredth posting. So I waited. And waited. And waited.

I couldn’t do it. I wanted the 200th blog to be full of great things. Not a few paragraphs. No, I was thirsting for many paragraphs.


Tuesday, May 15th, and three teachers are absent on the second floor and one on the first. No substitute came for 211 so I went outside during my prep period and assisted the gym teacher with my class and 211.

A sub showed up at 9:40 and I took both classes upstairs to our rooms. No problem there either.


All hell broke out.

206 emptied into the hallway as a fight went from the room to the hall and I went to help the sub while another teacher went to contain the students. The fight continued all the way to the lunchroom before it was broken up. If the eighth grade teacher had not shown up to assist with room 206…

And then it got worst.

After lunch, I again brought 211 and 209 upstairs and found myself alone in the hallway getting all of the students into their classrooms. This included students from 203, 204, and 206.

Two of my boys went to the drinking fountain even though I did not give them permission. How can you take care of your room when so many other unsupervised students are running the hallways?

The fight began in the hallway egged on by girls from other classrooms. I stopped it. I sent everyone on their way. But the fight was not over. The boy ran from his classroom into my classroom to continue the fight. I removed him again and he came in again. When I removed him the third time, I called security.

You get the picture.

Meanwhile, 204, 206 and most of 211 were in the hallway to see what all of the commotion was about. My student was having one of his every other day temper tantrums which I have learned to ignore. Unfortunately the boy from the other classroom could not ignore it. He rushed into my room a fourth time and got by me and got in the first solid blow.

(I am reminded of a time a teacher went off and I was all alone trying my hardest to stop him from seriously hurting a student. Perhaps I’ll tell this story. Perhaps not.)

Security arrived and pulled the offender off. He carried him into the hall. He carried him to the office.


Of course not.

The student broke loose after he was placed in the office and ran back into my room as my class settled—finally—into their work and jumped five feet tackling my student, knocking down chairs and tables and emptying out 211, 204 and 206.

(I’m proud to say my classroom moved out of the way and did not join the other classrooms.)

This is not the way I wanted my 200th blog to go.

So what’s in store for my 201st blog? The tale above continues…

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Another successful grant.

Hope this helps.

RIF in Chicago Grant Application

Contact information goes here.

Principal: ____________
Contact person: Michael Brownstein

1. How will being a RIF Distribution Site be helpful to your organization at this point in time?

Both the vision and mission statement of the _______ Elementary School promotes the life long learning of its entire educational community. Reading is a fundamental (no pun intended) part—if not the primary part—of life long learning. Our standardized test scores have been increasing, but we still have a long way to go. Introducing books and reading at the school level helps us to meet our main objective; however, getting books into the students’ homes greatly assists us as educators. We can force feed students to read at school and a program that brings books into the home empowers our students and engages them more because they will participate in more reading for pleasure. Research stresses the more a child reads, the more proficient that child becomes. Because the child selects and owns their book, they will want to read more. Furthermore, parental involvement in the program (the child reads at home) will reinforce the positive model for the successful cognitive development of the child. Our students will become our vision and mission statement: life long learners.

2. Would your site be able to raise enough money to run the proposed RIF program without funding from RIF in Chicago?

The quick response is no only because the school’s budget is stretched in so many directions. Our present budget projections show that we may have to layoff a few teachers or utilize our discretionary funds to purchase them back.

On the other hand, it is possible to raise fifteen hundred dollars over time through fund raising and other activities. This takes a lot of time and we probably would not be able to pay out the money in a timely fashion. We would not want to lose our opportunity to work with RIF during the 2007-2008 school year because of time and budget constraints.

3. If RIF in Chicago funding were made available, what percentage could your site raise?

This is a hard question because once again our budget is stretched to the limit and the projected budget for next year shows a drop of almost thirty thousand dollars. In order to maintain what we have, we will have to reach deep into our discretionary funds and these funds—at present—are being utilized to insure each student has their own textbooks, desks and other necessary materials to insure the success of our educational programs. In addition, teachers are purchasing more and more of the supplies needed for their classes—copier paper, for example.

4. Please describe your children and families in terms of their risk for school failure, special needs, home environments, and other applicable information.

_______ Elementary School is one-hundred percent African-American. Ninety-eight percent of our students qualify for the federal free lunch and breakfast program. The vast majority of our students live in apartments headed by a single parent, in most cases female. Even though the neighborhood is going through gentrification, it is still racked with high crime, prostitution and illicit drug trade. Our school has made strides in reading on standardized testing; however, the majority of the third and sixth grade still had to attend summer school in order to pass due to poor scores and/or poor grades. We have a small homeless population (about five percent of our enrollment) and another twenty percent of our students live with relatives.

5. Please describe your local population, employment rats, local industry, and any other applicable information.

The greater ________ educational community is made up of apartments and brand new condominiums. There are a few single family homes spread throughout the neighborhood. The area remains prominently African-American. Many of the households are run by a female. Furthermore, many of the rentals qualify for the federally funded Section 8 housing program. There are many vacant lots; however, there is also a lot of rehabilitation of property. The neighborhood is gentrifying. There is industry to the west of 44th and King Dr. (where the school is located) and the area is served by the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line. Downtown is five miles north. Ninety-eight percent of our students qualify for the federal free lunch program.

6. What challenges within the community prevent your site from raising enough money to operate RIF in Chicago without a scholarship?

Due to budget constraints, the entire budget of the school is set up to maintain at the present status quo and “bare nail” basic educational for our students. Nonetheless, in the upcoming school year, art will be removed from our curriculum because of a lack of money to compensate an art teacher. We will also lose our reading specialist: not enough money in the budget to maintain that project. We will also not be able to continue with the Joffrey Ballet Program or the University of Chicago Internet Project.

Fundraising will be utilized to pay for basic necessities (copier paper, for example).

7. What is your responsibility at your site?

I am the science chair for the upper grades. I teach reading and science to seventh graders. I am also the Teachers’ Union delegate, the chair of the Least Restricted Environment Project, and one of the two teacher representatives on the Local School Council. With the funding of this scholarship, I will also chair the RIF in Chicago committee.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


We started our research project for the spring—stem cell lines across racial boundaries.

I’m excited about it and the groups for the most part are working hard on their questions: moral questions, racial questions, that sort of thing.

It appears only a few lines have been approved by the Bush administration and even though he declares he’s not a racist, it appears his actions show he indeed is. Why else would the sixty-four stem cell lines he approves be only for whites of European ancestry.

We’ll see if my classes can crack this puzzle. After all, cloning a stem cell line is the same as cloning an embryo. You can’t have it both ways.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Coca Cola, Albertsons and Reading Is Fundalmental

Evan Georgi, the executive director of Reading is Fundamental, dropped by my school about a week ago. If you don’t know RIF, you should.

Many years ago—before many of you were born—RIF gave me a library for a learning center I ran for a little bit of time behind Mason School in the field house on Chicago’s westside. It was a great opportunity because many of the children didn’t have even one book in their house, let alone a personal library. With the help of RIF all those many years ago, a lot of students got their first books.

So you know I was happy to find out RIF was doing well in Chicago—so happy in fact I invited Evan to my school.

We spoke for a bit about RIF, another teacher sat in and asked a lot of good questions, I went on duty, and before everything was over, I had a contract for RIF for my school next year and a grant application (which I will share later this week).

Evan told me she would come out on Literacy Night and do a presentation. She only had a week to plan this and I thought that wasn’t really enough time, but when literacy night came, so did Julie Lawrenz, the program coordinator for RIF. And Julie brought with her around four hundred brand new books—enough for many of the families visiting the school on Literacy Night to begin libraries for their children at home.

Too often, as the poet Andrew Hudgins explains, “I learned early that reading, which I saw as pure pleasure, was seen by my parents as work.” This is why I was so glad Julie and Evan could give my students the opportunity to select their own books and start their own libraries.

We—Julie and I—even let a few children get greedy. We let them select more than one book and since two and four are not numbers I really like (four, in fact, the unlucky number in China), some children went away with three or five books. (I added poetry books which were donated to me a few months ago.)

Anyway, we can’t wait to start our RIF program and September 2007 seems so far away. Nonetheless, we did get quite a few books and we did pass out quite a few books and this morning as I write this teachers kindergarten through fourth are selecting books for their classroom library. What a change to see teachers actually happy this early in the morning.

By the way, I have to thank Albertsons, the Coca-Cola Company and RIF for getting these books to my school where they are really needed.

And I have to thank Evan again for granting my school the gift of reading. Isn’t it so much better to give a book as a gift? Can you not see the possibilities? Trick or treating can become trick or reading. Christmas can be a festival of reading clubs. The tooth fairy could leave a book. Birthdays would be better than a trip to the library.

How cool would that be?

A nation of readers who read for pleasure and learning because they discovered all of its joys—and with joy even work is satisfying.

Yeah, that would be too cool.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Do you know how you can tell teachers are not valued at all in the realm of the world—or at least here in the United States?

First off, we know teachers are very badly underpaid. But until now (well, not for the first time in my Chicago teaching career), not only are we underpaid, but sometimes we don’t get paid at all.


Oh, you must be working for a major corporation. I’m a teacher. Remember that. Not a doctor. Not a lawyer. Definitely not an elected official. God forbid their paycheck comes up incorrectly.

For the last two pay cycles my check has been off by a lot. The first one did not pay me for any of my extra service that I do—chair of the Least Restricted Environment and coordinator for the After School All Stars. Nor did the second one.

I didn’t even get paid for all of the work I do during my regular time. One day was missing off the check last pay period and this pay period, an entire week.

Teachers have bills, too. And I don’t feel like I need to hear excuses. We do the work, we work hard, and we should get paid on time and correctly.

(A few years back the Board messed up the budget so badly we had to go on strike to get paid. Another time we were told to go directly from work to the bank to cash our paycheck because they did not know if there would be enough funds to cover all of them.)

I’m not now a happy camper. In a few minutes I will go outside and supervise the playground—maybe by myself because I don’t always receive help the entire time. Then I’ll teach reading—we’re on science fiction now—and science—theoretical physics—and then I’ll go outside again and supervise dismissal and my day is not over yet. Tonight is literacy night and I’ll be here past seven o’clock. (Did I tell you I removed the negative graffiti from the playground myself at my expense—well, I wrote a grant for the supplies—because no one else would do it?)

So pay us.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Another week done. Thirty days to go.

We read a few of the Cantos by poet Ezra Pound and we discussed and wrote about them. Everything went very well. Then we discussed if his anti-American activities after 1925 were reason to censor him. The students wrote great essays and a few of them even brought out today’s arguments that have brought down a few individuals for saying the wrong thing. The final vote: His poetry outweighs his anti-Semitism. A great week in reading.

There was a sub next door on Thursday who had no idea what to do and he hung in there, and I spent about fifteen minutes out of every hour in his room. Finally, the assistant principal assigned one of the security people to sit in the room with him. My last hour was much more peaceful—even though my preparation period was cancelled.

We studied theoretical science in the afternoons. I divided the class up into small think tank clusters and the students had to come up with the benefits of going into the past to change something in their life—and what obstacles might be in the way of doing this successfully. We did four problems—all physics related (including if an object becomes light when it reaches the speed of light—and I have to tell you, the classes did very well.

Nike came back to the school for Nike Day—the reason for my lost prep. A lot of big shots came to the school. Only primary students—second and third graders—were allowed to participate. I did get to meet someone famous—though I have no idea who he is because all I told him was a he was holding up dismissal and could he please get into his limo so we could dismiss the students. I’m not a celebrity fan obviously. All of these grown people were gushing around him. I had to practically lead him into the limo. So Nike Day came and went and all I got was a t-shirt.

We went on a field trip Friday. Great time. Physics on a skating rink. I can skate so you know I had to pick on the basketball players who whipped our behinds by thirty points during the teacher/student game. Only two of them could skate. And, of course, I had to lap the star player four times just to rub it in.

At the end of the trip the rink organized a dancing contest and I went out and danced too. Unfortunately I ended up challenging two eighth graders to a footwork contest and the entire second floor of my school—the entire floor was on the trip—surrounded me while I danced around them. In the third round, one boy backed down and the other just vanished. The truth is I dance as badly as I play basketball. But I can skate.

I wrote three grants this week—and already I have been notified they have been funded.

So I guess everything is fine and well in my corner of the world.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


We received over twenty-five thousand dollars over time with this grant—an after school enrichment project.

1.) Please provide a brief overview of your enrichment program?

Currently ______ has a partnership with the Joffrey Ballet; a fulltime fine arts and computer lab program; a choir; and an after school sports recreational program with units on tennis, basketball, track, and baseball. In the past we have had extensive dance classes, violin lessons, an African drum ensemble and a band. The Joffrey Ballet grant expires at the end of this year, but we will try to renew it.
Our enrichment program has been designed with the help of student and professional staff surveys. With this enrichment grant, we will expand on our existing dance programs, add an after school computer club and a cultural arts project (African drums, band, and violin lessons and a fine arts club). The dance class will have a full curriculum beyond ballet and will include modern, African, and tap dance. Our music instruction will be multicultural and include a band, violin ensembles, an African drum group and an after school choir. (Our present choir meets one day a week during school.) The after school fine arts program will be an intensive exploration of the world of art crossing the entire horizons of culture and time. Students will study archeology, the various media of the artist, the disciplines of the fine arts and a number of artists. We will offer our students a number of opportunities to explore the world of cultural arts. In addition, we will offer a technology component—The Computer Club where students will learn a number of objectives including how to design web pages and repair computers.
These clubs will meet Monday through Thursday after school. Each class will serve fifteen students in order to meet the individual needs of all of the students. Parents will be encouraged to enroll in the various activities as mentors and tutors.

2.) How does this program support your regular school day?

Research has shown that well-rounded children become lifelong learners. The _______ vision and mission statement both incorporate lifelong learning as one of our primary goals. Furthermore, brain research shows that children learn through a variety of instructional methods. Not all children are auditory learners, for example. Some students are kinesthetic and tactile learners. Others utilize visual and/or mobility. The _______ after school program will incorporate all of the learning modalities needed to instruct the whole child.
Reading is the primary objective for all of our students. Without reading, they cannot achieve and they cannot become lifetime learners. Our after school enrichment project will help our students to become better readers because of the high interest and diversity of the programs. Learning to play a musical instrument institutes many of the same skills needed to read. A successful technology club also insures successful readers. The fine and cultural arts, according to brain and learning research, help children see ideas in traditional as well as alternative ways. All of these enrichment projects combined will offer our students higher order thinking skills and successful strategies to become better readers, scholars, and lifelong learners.
Lastly, the ________ enrichment program will raise our attendance levels. Students who are bored, disinterested or hesitant about school will attend everyday because they want to participate. The more a student attends school, the better learner that a student becomes. The famous axiom—the more you read the better you read—is also true with our enrichment program. We will immerse our students into enrichment and they will be enriched. With a number of engaged active learning environments within the confines of the program, students will begin to flourish academically, psychologically and emotionally. The variety of enrichment activities will enhance our student’s educational career and begin the upward spiral that will make a positive transformation in their overall performance. After all, this is what _________ and all schooling should be about—creating individuals who have a lifetime thirst for learning.

3.) What are the projected outcomes of the program?

With this program participating students will show a fifty percent decrease in negative referrals to the office, a two percent increase in attendance, a five percent increase in all standardized testing in both reading and mathematics, and a twenty percent increase in the ISAT for the section on fine arts. Students will make a technology and cultural arts portfolio. Furthermore, they will meet or exceed all of the following objectives for technology including: how to demonstrate basic operations and concepts; understand social, ethical, and human issues; and have a comprehensive understanding on how to use technology productivity, communication, problem-solving and decision-making tools. Students will meet or exceed the fine arts goals as listed in the Illinois Learning Standards: State Goal 25—students will know the language of art; State Goal 26—through creating and performing, students will understand how works of art are produced; and state Goal 27—students will understand the role of the arts in civilization, past and present.
Because the enrichment program is high interest and excites our students, we expect to see a ripple effect that helps change the focus of the entire school body thereby strengthening existing academic programs, creating more viable solutions to discipline and conflict and changing the mindset of students who act out, are not interested in academics, and/or are just plain bored. The overall effect will be the creation of a learning institution where children not only feel good about learning, but also want to learn more.

4.) Please explain briefly how you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of your program.

The _________ enrichment project will have both formal and informal evaluations. Informal evaluations will be on going. These will include numerous gallery showings within the hallways and main corridors of ______ with displayed artwork. This will also include a gallery showing of artwork at the High Risk Art Gallery located on Chicago’s north side. The various music groups—the band, violin, choir and African drum programs—will perform at all assemblies and they will record a professional CD with Q Studios. The technology club will display their work in a variety of technology shows developed for individual classrooms, assemblies and hallway exhibits. Teacher made performance quizzes and tests will also be utilized as evaluative tools.
Formal evaluations will include data on negative referrals to the office, a two percent increase in attendance, a five percent gain in all standardized testing in reading and math and a twenty percent increase in the fine arts segment of the ISAT.
Participating students will be given journals for notes and comments on the program. Each activity will include time for students to reflect on what they have learned. These journals will be collected from time to time and utilized as another form of evaluation. Teacher observation and a change in the climate of the school will also be documented through interviews, observation, and other anecdotal records from the ______ School professional staff, adults from the greater ______ learning community, and other interested stakeholders.
All of these evaluations—formal and informal—will be incorporated into an administrative portfolio. An administrative team made up of administrators, teachers, ESPs and interested adults from the greater _______ learning community will evaluate the portfolio and other results on a bi-weekly basis to insure all targeted objective, outcomes and formal evaluations are being met. The team will make periodic reports to the LSC and to the entire professional staff during scheduled in-service days.
Members of the Office of After School and Community School Programs will be invited to assemblies, field trips, and exhibits.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I’m working on a few grants at the moment—one to get libraries in each classroom, another to get books into our student’s homes and one more to develop a more viable plan to get parents involved in the school as volunteers.

Everything I read on the subjects of classroom libraries, reading at home and parental involvement comes to the same conclusion: successful schools have a successful parent component—parents volunteer and volunteering parents model reading.

So it was a great thing when I met Amanda Grant from the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice during the February NCLB Conference. She offered free assistance with developing a parent volunteer program—something my school sorely lacks. (As far as I can tell, we only have one dedicated parent volunteer.)

Last night two members of the Appleseed Foundation came to our meeting about how to get more parents involved and let me tell you, you have to wish you could have been there—especially if you are a teacher teaching in the inner city and have few to no parent volunteers in your school.

Jose Melendez and Kim Conte were fantastic facilitators. They got the teachers involved in the discussion and offered viable and easy to do suggestions. Already we’re planning on using a few of them—bragging about our school with displays located in community based programs that service our students.

We have the sixth grade champion in the district science fair, for example. Why can’t I brag?

If you would like to see the notes from the meeting, I can get them to you. Just let me know by going to the comment section.

In the meantime, I just want you to know their presentation was great, their information easy to digest, and best of all, we are now planning a long term relationship with them.

How great is that.

We are going to post their four steps on posters—

In order to succeed—
build relationships
link to learning
address differences
support advocacy
share the power

That’s just one of the ideas they helped us explore.

The teachers left excited, I’m obviously excited, and now, Tuesday morning, I am looking forward to a new day, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and it looks like everything is going to go the right way.