A Day in the Life of a an Inner-City School Teacher
Mouthy kids, flaky parents, poorly-equipped classrooms, and a few divine moments of connecting with students – it’s all in a day’s work
With a pile of fresh worksheets still warm from the copier, I arrive at the classroom where I will teach my first two classes. “You’re late, Miss” is how the group of four students waiting outside the door greet me. Class doesn’t begin until 8:30 and they are supposed to be in the cafeteria, but once again they were released early. They are four of my best students, but who likes to be called out for being late when you are, in fact, early, and so are they? Good morning to you, too.
I unlock the door and sigh. This room…sucks. Two years ago when I was told I had gotten my own classroom, I hilariously thought that meant I would be teaching in there. This year, due to “scheduling issues,” I’m teaching in rooms all over the school. This one is particularly grim: small, windowless, with a noisy air vent above that makes it hard for students to hear. I have 28 students on my roster, and 25 chairs in the room. If they all show up on the same day, we’re in trouble.
My first class begins to arrive. I don’t mind so much that there are only 7 students present for the first 25 minutes. If this is it for the whole period, I’ll secretly be okay with that, since these kids are the most well-behaved and engaged. And miracle of miracles: they all even have something to write with! We open the play to where we left off and volunteers begin to read. I note one student who is emerging as a real natural, the way he reads this role. It’s a tough role for even a seasoned actor, the rhythm of the language, the word choices—but he seems to take to it like a duck to water. I wonder if he recognizes it, too? Should I say something? Or will it make him rebel and never read aloud again? Hmmm.
I try to play the video clip to end the class on an inspired note. It freezes. Once again, I wish teachers had special YouTube privileges; it would be a great tool to have for moments like this.