What I’m Thankful for as an Inner-City Teacher


By Andrew Pillow

People do a lot of complaining about how hard and thankless it is to be an inner-city teacher. To be completely honest, we have done our fair share of complaining about it on this very blog. It is easy to get into a deficit based mindset when teaching where we do. 

Under-funded, under-staffed, under-resourced, and underpaid work environments don’t exactly inspire a ton of things to be thankful for, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to give thanks for. Today, I am going to take note and list all of the things that I am thankful for as an inner-city teacher. 

1.    The resiliency of my students

My students face obstacles in and out of the classroom. I’m not going to perpetuate the stereotype that every inner-city student is at-risk. However, some of my students are, and they face tremendous odds every day. I’m thankful that most of my students arrive in my classroom everyday receptive and ready to learn. 

2.    The drive of my co-workers

Because of the underpaid and thankless nature of the work we do, I can be pretty sure that most of the teachers I work with are there for the right reasons. Everyone I work with could leave for an easier environment and higher pay. Not all my co-workers are world-class teachers, but they are all committed to the betterment of our students, and that’s something to be thankful for.  

3.    The optimism of our students’ parents

Again, not all of our students come from poor or underprivileged families, but some of them do. Of the ones who do, I am always impressed by the ability of the families to hope and dream of a life for their children beyond the scope of what they have experienced themselves. For a single mother who has never gone to college to aspire for her son to be a doctor or lawyer is more than admirable; it's heroic.

4.    The leadership of my administration

If you get a bunch of teachers around each other it typically doesn’t take long for the conversation to shift to complaints about admin and principals. Luckily, this is not really a problem for me. My administration is not only on board with the mission but also the way in which each individual teacher goes about achieving it. Given all the other schools that I could have landed at, and the testimony of my fellow teachers from different schools, I consider myself lucky to be at a school where my superiors are invested and respect each individual teacher.

It has become almost chic to make fun of inner city teaching environments. However, let's make sure that we as teachers are keeping track of the minor blessings and miracles that take place every day. 


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.