To the editor:
I read your cover article "Zero Tolerance" [September 8]. While generally well-written, there was a glaring insight into the writer's teaching methods. Specifically, he writes, "[I was] a little preoccupied because I had nothing planned for my first-period class, which began in ten minutes, but otherwise feeling pretty good given that it was Monday morning."
I am a teacher and someone who made a midlife career change to become one. I am fortunate enough to be teaching at a Catholic prep school in the inner city--our students are from working-class backgrounds, in general, and also from families who place a great emphasis on education, with many financial sacrifices.
I have also substitute taught in the Chicago Public School system for several years, so I am well aware of issues facing teachers in that system as well.
Mr. Michie tells us that he headed into his first class of the day, after a weekend off, with NOTHING prepared. His care and concern for his students' learning environment is underwhelming. Every successful teacher I have observed (and I hope to consider myself in that category, eventually) is, if anything, overprepared. Classroom time is precious.
You cheat students of learning by not preparing. Even more importantly, you are sending a message to them that they are not significant enough for you to spend time and effort on them. I knew, going into my teaching career, that students were--and continue to be--experts at reading subtle clues. Students interpret your teaching efforts as indicative of your level of caring for them as individuals. And they are swift to judge a failure.
I love my new career and I have wonderful students. While Mr. Michie may be a good writer, he is not someone I would want to be my child's teacher. There are many talented teachers within the CPS. I have had the opportunity to observe some of them through student teaching, observation for university classes, and substitute teaching.
Mr. Michie does not appear to be one of them.