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.

Monday, June 04, 2007


The last quarter of the school year is almost on us and I have a few students who are failing. One boy got his head turned by one of the girls, but that has ended so now he’s on track, trying harder, and he’ll pass. Another told me it matters to him that he does well in school. His mother doesn’t care—has, in fact, never asked him about homework or school or anything school related. He’s missing today’s field trip to make up missed work so he can pass. One of my girls is in the same boat. She received a field trip slip, but she will not be able to go because she, too, will be staying back to makew up missed assignments.

Three girls in my class have just given up. I don’t even know why. One is so angry she went on a cursing temper tantrum that brought my class to total silence for a long time the other day. She called me so many names, you would have thought I was in a classroom with a few drunken trash talking trash peddling nowhere people. (And you thought I was going to use the word “sailor.”)

In her tirade, she talked about my color, my mother, and too many bodily functions. I, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) know too much about her. I know her mother has gone missing for these last half dozen years. I know she lives with her sister—and doesn’t like her. I know she is fed up with her life because she has told me this a few times. I know her phone is cut off. I know she is ashamed of where she lives.

I used to ask for help from certain teachers, but they have their hands so full of problems right now—and they are way too busy with end of the year tasks—and one of them actually told me she no longer wants to be bothered with this young lady.

During library, I gave my student conference time so I could assist her in improving her grades. She is in striking distance of a D in every subject—just two to four points away.

Her response to my extra credit work: “If you’re going to fail me, just do it.”

My response to her: “I don’t want to fail you. For some reason you want to fail yourself. Take this opportunity to pass. Do the extra credit I’m giving you.”

Her response back: “Whatever. I don’t care if I fail or not.”

My question to you, my readers, is: What’s my next move? About two weeks left of school and I want her to pass.



Anonymous Donor said...

Try this: Tell her that there are people in the world who really care what happens to her. She will probably come off with a few expletives about that. Then tell her if she really wants to know at least one person who cares, even though they never met, she can always email this one and find out that there is a bigger world out there than she can imagine. That world has sincere and caring people in it who want the youth of today to not just graduate but to soar to any heights they can imagine.

3:32 PM  
Blogger A Teacher's Log said...

Just wanted to let you know, donor, that the same girl you are talking about is ABC in the blog about stem cell research. She got into a major fight during gym and was suspended for three days.


1:54 PM  
Anonymous Donor said...

You can't say that ABC is not intelligent. You can say that she has "issues" which maybe you can guess at being close at hand, I certainly can not. I would bet she is using her fists and mouth only because she sees no other way out of her situation at the present time. Can she sit still long enough to realize that life is a mirror, have her look into it when she feels angry and combative, ask her how she would feel about being nice to a person who approaches her like that. Maybe I'm being too simplistic, I know nothing about her life except that it is hard and frustrating. The fact is that nothing in life remains stagnant and for her that is good news because her situation is changing day by day even if she isn't aware of it, changing soon for the better if she will allow it to be. You're a patient man Mr B. and I thank you for that.

12:31 PM  
Blogger A Teacher's Log said...

Yes, ABC in the Stem Cell blog entry is smart. Her standardized test scores are very high--in the high eighties. It's her anger that is the problem--mother gone to drugs and no one knows where she is, sister trying to raise her and struggling, and her best friend has a parent who is both friend--but not parent--and abuser--when she decides to be a parent.

Too many issues.

5:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home