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
That last class went a little better, though they left the room a mess. I’m straightening up the classroom after my class when hunger pangs hit. I’ve forgotten to bring my lunch so I call in my lunch order at the diner on the corner. Getting my coat on to go pick it up, I get a call from the office. The no-show parent that was supposed to be here at 11:00 has just arrived. I have to decide: eat lunch or meet parent? Gritting my teeth against the hunger, I head to the office.
I pull a student aside at the end of class to speak privately about something I’ve been noticing in class. A good student generally, lately she’s been responding to me with the special tone of disdain teenagers usually save for their parents whenever I call on her. I gently point out that I’ve noticed her tone (you never use the word “attitude” with teenagers; trust me on this) has changed in class, and I wondered if anything was going on that I should know about. At first, she denies it, but then finally reveals that she’s had some issues with the boy she is seated next to in class. Nothing serious, she claims, but she has heard him making fun of her and doesn’t feel comfortable around him. As we talk about it more, it’s clear how much this has been upsetting her. I agree to change his seat tomorrow, and we develop a signal for her to let me know if it’s happening again. I also vow to speak to him and his advisor the following day. I encourage her to speak up sooner next time. By the time she leaves, she seems back to herself and even thanks me.
In the hallway I run into the Mr. Natural Actor from first period. I comment how good he is at cold reading, that he has a real knack for acting. “That’s all I’m doing all day, Miss, is ACTING!” he says with a flourish. I laugh and marvel at how true that is for most of my students.
I’m dying to use the restroom, but I have a staff meeting that I’m now 5 minutes late for, after talking with my student after class. Why didn't anyone tell me bladder management was such a big part of teaching?