What happens in Chapter Seven of To Sir with Love? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Seven, Mr. Braithwaite continues learning about the faculty, his students, and people in the neighborhood.

After suffering through a noisy lunch in the cafeteria the previous day, Braithwaite decides to eat in the faculty lounge where it is quiet. There he talks with the lovely and pleasant Miss Blanchard, who remarks that he seems surprised by the students' interest in classical music that morning. After this, she asks him how his morning has gone, and Braithwaite tells her of his disappointment in the students' finding their own ignorance amusing. It is apparent that Braithwaite is perplexed about these youths who willingly listen to sophisticated music, yet have no desire to learn basic things.

Mrs. Drew encourages the new teacher, telling him "...they're not bad when you get to know them." Weston chimes in, "The trick is getting to know them." During this interchange with the members of the faculty, Braithwaite is encouraged by their desire that he succeed. But, after he returns to his classroom, he finds the students suspiciously watchful of him.

My attempts at pleasantries were received with a chilly lack of response which indicated that my earlier remarks had got under their skin. Their silent watchfulness was getting under mine.

Still, there is one student who seems friendly, Tich Jackson, who returns his smiles although the boy joins in with the other students in their derisive laughter. Another student seems removed from everyone; his name is Lawrence Seales. This boy is "obviously of mixed parentage" and is quiet; he does not engage with the other students in their ribaldry, nor does he show any interest in his teacher. 

After leaving school Braithwaite stops in at a tobacconist's shop where he sees a board with postings of lodgings. Thinking that the long ride from Brentwood back and forth each day will become tiresome, especially in the winter months, Braithwaite leans over to read the posts. The proprietor asks him if he can help; Braithwaite says, "Not really...I might like a room near by." Then the man asks if he works in the area, and Braitwaite tells him that he is a teacher at Greenslade School.

"These not good for you; for teacher not good. Sometimes good ones I have, these not,"

advises the tobacconist, in broken English. Braithwaite is moved by his kindness, a positive ending to a trying day. Later on at home, he discusses the day's occurrences with Mr. and Mrs. Belmont, who agree with him that he must gain the students' confidence before their resentment leads to something that can destroy any hope of a good relationship with them.