Inner City English Teacher

Inner City English Teacher


NY Metro Area, NJ

Female, 37

I teach English to 11th grade inner city students. I love my students and do whatever I can to help them succeed, which is quite a mission. These kids face obstacles most of us cannot even imagine: gangs, incarcerated parents, domestic violence and much more. Everyday I read journal entries that would curl your toes...and often I feel I compromise my ethics to get these kids to pass, which I am very conflicted about. Many pass who, frankly, should not.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +


Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

55 Questions


Last Answer on June 01, 2014

Best Rated

If a student walks into your classroom smelling like marijuana, do you (a) ignore it unless his behavior becomes problematic, or (b) immediately take disciplinary action?

Asked by Mr. Hand about 11 years ago

It is our obligation to never ignore it. In fact, we are told that even if we are suspicious that a student is high, we need to send them to the nurse and fill out forms with the drug counselor at school, who will in turn test them. It is a rare occurance, believe it or not, yet there have been times when I have sent a student out and then contacted the proper administrators in school.

Does your school push its students toward more vocational training ("shop classes") than other schools?

Asked by phunter over 11 years ago

I wish they did! They push kids into going to college who are obviously not equipped to be a college student! There are vocational schools in the district, which attract the kids who already know what they want to do...surprisingly, quite a few kids I know learn their vocations from apprenticing with uncles, fathers, etc. It's ludicrous to think that my school doesn't offer more vo-tech type classes. Ugh!!!

When you meet parents on parent-teacher nights, do some of them make you go: jesus, this kid never stood a chance!?

Asked by whoru about 11 years ago

ABSOLUTELY!!! That is one of the aspects of this job that is so maddening...the last parent/teacher night, one mother lliterally started to climb over the desk to get to me because I gave her daughter a detention for calling me "ignorant." Can you imagine? Our school has a lot of immigrant parents who truly want the best for their kids; however, if you saw some of these parents, your skin would crawl. Using foul language, disrespectful, and the worst part is that you KNOW once they get their kid home, they will beat the crap out of the kid to "teach them a lesson." The thinnest line we have to cross is when to accept bad behavior due to their environment, or put our collective feet down and stop making excuses for the kid. It's the toughest part of the job. Some of these kids are plainly doomed to repeat the sins of the parents and there is not a lot we can do. We try to guide, listen, and steer them in the right direction, but man oh man, is it ever trying!!!!

Do inner city schools have more bullying than regular schools?

Asked by A. Walczak about 11 years ago

As a matter of fact, I would have to say a resounding no! Strange as that may seem, the kids I have been associated with are far more accepting than suburban school kids. Having taught at both ends of the spectrum, I find that the sense of entitlement that goes along with suburban kids gives them a sense of superiority that prevents them from having more tolerance of the marginalized kids. At my school, the issues fall more along the lines of race, with the black and Hispanic kids at odds; but, overall I would give a thumbs up to my inner city kids over the suburban brats!!

I am currently teaching 8th grade inner city children. I'm looking for highly engaging, can't put down fiction and nonfiction reading. Most of them just don't like to read even though they can.

Asked by Kathy over 10 years ago

I feel your pain...we just finished reading "To Kill a Mockingbird."  They struggled a bit with Part 1 but couldn't get enough of Part 2.  Then there is "Of Mice and Men," another classic. You could try "Lovely Bones" or anything by Sherman Alexie.  It's a real struggle, I know.  "Raisin in the Sun" is a great play, too.  Hope this helps...let me know if you choose any of these and good luck!  :)

Do you use Facebook? What do you do if students try and friend you or interact with you on the site? Do a lot of teachers avoid Facebook for this reason?

Asked by go wildcats almost 11 years ago

I do not have a facebook page.  I am very against interacting with students via social media; some of the younger teachers do it and I feel it is a big mistake.  They post pictures of their personal lives, which I feel, sets them up for disaster.  The younger teachers feel it's cool, but I would never go that route; it's just a personal preference of mine.  Students who have graduated that I helped have my cell phone number, in case of an emergency at college or if they need help with a paper...that has happened often since they are not prepared for what faces them post high school.  But while I am teaching and I have students who I am in contact with, being on facebook is not an option.  I am really adamant about that...they often ask me if I am on facebook, or to look at something on facebook, but no, no, no...not me!  I am extremely discriminating not to cross that can never have a happy ending!  SO not professional, in my opinion.

Hi, I'm a Spanish teacher who teaches 100% immersion to inner city high school kids. I have students who fall asleep, refuse to do work and just talk with their friends, and to me seem like they have very little common sense. What can I do?

Asked by Myohmya over 10 years ago

It's so difficult, isn't it? And the teachers get blamed for not "motivating" the kids...have you tried contacting the parents? When I am at my wits' end, I call the parents and have them come in for a conference with an administrator and the student. The problem we face is that many of our kids work at night to help support the family and by the time they are in school, they can barely stay awake. Perhaps there have been no severe consequences for their in- appropriate behavior...there could be a lot of extenuating circumsances which is when we have to play detective and find out why?  But frankly, some kids are just not motivated and nothing you can do, aside from standing on your head, gets them going.  And that is the truth!!!!