Friday: Over Lunch They Dissect Their Day

11:38 A.M.

"Whateverrrr." Marty Walter, eyebrows arched, is imitating one of her biology students who had the nerve to yell it at her in class. Recounting this to her colleagues at lunch is her way of venting. It took strength, when the boy talked to her afterward, not to throw "whatever" back in his face. Her fellow teachers hoot at the mere thought: Oh, how good it would feel--just once--to tell off the little suckers.

Teaching today takes restraint, energy and, above all, a sense of humor. While the kids downstairs eat cheese fries, half a dozen science teachers gather in the third-floor...

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