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A Day in the Life of a an Inner-City School Teacher


My second class begins to arrive and immediately lets me know I’ll be working hard for the next 50 minutes. They make their entrance pushing and shoving each other, taking each other’s bags, running around the room, ignoring me. They used to be one of the best groups in this grade, but now we commonly refer to them to as “that formerly good class.” Where things went downhill, I don’t know.

I hand out a quiz. We spent the entire last class reviewing for this test, and yet it seems to take them completely by surprise today. It’s clear that no one has studied. “I think you’ll find you know more than you think you know,” I try to reassure them. 

“I think you’ll find you’re a bad teacher,” quips one student, loud enough for us all to hear, even over the air vent.

While I’m bubbling in my attendance sheets in #2 pencil and waiting for a parent meeting, I try calling the father of the student who was so rude during second period. His is the only contact we have listed. The first number is out of service, but the second number puts me through. Dad tells me his son no longer lives with him, and that he rarely sees him. He gives me Mom’s number. I relay the story again to the student’s mother, who responds, “Yeah, he doesn’t really like plays.”  Upon my pointing out that, regardless of how much he does or doesn’t like a subject, this is not an acceptable way to address a teacher, she begrudgingly agrees to talk with him when he gets home.