I like to think,
Maybe not about the right stuff,
But when pondering what life means,
I rarely think of algebra, STEM, group projects or
Much of anything about my high school experience.

Seems weird for me to write that
Since I have a terminal degree in education.
Come to think of it,
Maybe there’s a problem with degrees in education
I mean, with paper comes ego, right?

So, my fellow teachers of the world,
We have a place in society,
We have a job to do,
Our job is not to be an asshole to kids
Or to use our certificates to bully them.

Our job is to communicate clearly,
To provide the resources to students
So the THEY can learn what is important to THEM.
It’s not about you coercing them to do your contrived work.
That’s a pedestal pedagogy and we should be better than that.

I’m lucky and cursed to live where I teach,
Lucky because I know the deal,
No early due date shenanigans with me,
I’m pretty sure June 5 means June 5,
Not May 22 or 28.

I’m cursed because I live where I teach,
So now I know how and who you are
And when I sit in meetings listening to you pontificate
I will have to try and hold back,
To not seem annoyed at how you have treated my family.

It’s unfortunate,
Because your class is important,
Well, maybe not, maybe you just think it is, each student decides
For himself or herself, but it could be so much more,
I only wish you remembered what it was like to be a kid.

Oh wait, there was no Covid, then,
It’s doubtful you had to do distance learning,
Maybe you missed an assignment and got reamed by a teacher
Or jacked up with a more difficult make-up assignment
Just because the teacher could inflict that upon you.

I bet you resented that class, swore you would never do that when you taught,
Yet here it is, in a time when educators should be more compassionate,
And I’m on the fence about how to confront your kind hearted approach.
Maybe I’ll use the system, make you grade that shit, then opt out, just because.
Just because I know that would piss you off.

Hopefully, our boss would ask why,
And that’s when we’d speak first doctor to doctor,
And then I’d go taxpayer-parent to principal,
Then you two can figure out what should have happened.
Teacher, stop making it worse. Your paper is unimportant.

***Note: Remember this is just a poem… Not sure who is speaking… “lol”

I read somewhere that email is essentially the same
As it was when it started.
It’s sucked for an awful long time, then.

This day, I spent sending digital communication
After digital communication.
That’s not normally part of my job,

So all you office folks who have no compassion
Since you toil in this sort of drudgery all day,
I feel your pain about the kids being home.

I’m realizing that how important the brick and mortar is,
The face to face time of school.
I’m missing that.

That’s it.
I’ve had it.
This shit has got to end.
How many effing Schoology buttons are there?
Why am I getting mail?
Am I in control
Of anything anymore?

Normalcy.
That’s what I need.
Did I already have this shit?
Was that bad cold back in December it?
Dry hack, dry hack, dry hack
Day after day after day.
I bet it was.

Patience.
I need it, today.
This shit is driving me crazy.
Get me back to school…
WHAT? Did I just write that.
At least there, I’m there.
Be well everyone.

The italics are paraphrases, tributes, expressions of gratitude
For wisdom shared…

“A group who look to me for provocation or narration from time to time..”

I’m a nerd,
One who can clear a coffee table
With a gross joke that is over the edge without a rope
And still find time in the day
To nourish a soul with plenty of exercise,
Mental stimulation, and chilling with a sleeping dog.
It’s that mental stimulation that is calling out,
For I have for too long needed some provocation,
A little narration,
A stiff kick in the ass.

“We have in common a thirst, curiosity, are
Interested in figuring out what’s next…”

I had a moment today,
An intellectual concussion
That broke my mental filament
Which has been dimming
With an apathetic persistence
For the last few years.

“…and who are restless to make a difference.”

Fundamental shifts,
Philosophical tectonics,
This personal quake
Exposed my faults cemented by complacency,
Those rigors of passive acceptance,
The rejection of risk-taking,
An absence of purpose, or
Being ghosted by meaning,
The movement inspired today
Was that kick, the one I needed,
To push me into the open
Where I had not been in so long.

Sliding beyond now,
Drifting into the gray,
The place that matters,
A spongey area of chaotic ideas
Wrestling with what is known
And the fuzzy energy
Crackling when dissonance
Grabs the front of the brain and
Squeezes out the sour thoughts that have been
Clogging potential, shutting off
Excitement, fun, positivity.

“Restless…Curious…Thirsty…”

Finally, it’s happening,
I see it now,
I saw it after being poked
Authenticity has left, mechanized teaching had arrived,
I have become a Tin Man robot
Going through the motions
With no oil to release me from my voluntary servitude.

“Provocation…”

I heard Seth’s narrative,
I really heard Seth’s narrative,
So much so that I could not contain my excitement
I scribbled some notes
With only two minutes to get to class,
Where a disinterested bunch of ninth-graders waited
To talk about the ills of alcohol.

Instead, we drank from a cup of educational inspiration
Allowing a class to raise themselves to heights unseen,
Pushing me to use skills dormant since the end of RJP
Thoughts of self-efficacy rose,
Risking too big of a leap we talked of group efficacy,
And when the emotion was nearly too much,
I pointed out the window with excitement and worry
As a red pickup truck made a tight turn
With palettes stacked high in the bed.
The distraction let me have the moment I needed to clear my head
And wipe the tears from my eyes
As these kids were sending me to that happy place
I rarely get to experience.
I could have been standing below the Pamper Pole
Or having a quiet conversation at the top of a team beam,
There was that kind of honesty and importance
To what we were talking about.

“LEGO…”

Those little effing bricks,
Directions, no directions, bricks, kits

Then, one student said,
“Sometimes you gotta use what your parents taught you
Even when they ain’t around.”

My gosh,
They got it,
No homework,
No quizzes,
No threats of detention,
Only a conversation, something we have been working towards,
Something elusive, just when it was there,
It was gone,
Until today, when we did it,
We broke through and school quit being SCHOOL for twenty minutes,
Becoming realizations, reflections, connections,

Real, messy, untethered to directions,

Alive.

“Raise kids who know what to do when there are no instructions.” Seth Godin

[Inspired by Seth Godin, Akimbo Podcast 1/22/2020, Sportsmanship. Please check it out!]

CYA,
LOL,
FOH,
Is this what I went to school for?

Practice time,
Year round workouts,
Hours of homework,
Is that what they come to school for?

FOH,
That’s my favorite one,
It’s called graduation,
Retirement.

To serve is to know
Unless you work in a service industry
Which I’m pretty sure the last twenty plus years have been
For me in education
Except that when I act as a parent and
Experience bullshit runarounds from people I know,
I understand how little we educators understand about service.

Quality control people will soon be asking,
“What can we change?”
I might answer, “Don’t ignore me because I’m over 18.
I pay your salary,” technically mine too,
“So you will answer to me the adult.
My kid didn’t email you, I asked you for information.”
Answer the question asked to the person asking.

Change that.

colorful clown toy

There were a few minutes left in the longest school day of the year. My students were deep into a battle of kickball when the emergency lights around the gym started blinking. The calm and panic-inducing voice commanding everyone to leave the building. We went out into the blinding sun and winter’s wind. Luckily, the sun was winning and it wasn’t too cold. The students walked to the safe zone and we waited to hear what could have caused the unexpected building evacuation. Fortunately, nothing was too wrong. A bag of microwavable popcorn burned. The smoke ended the day.

It was like I had never been in a classroom before. They looked at me like I was some kind of freak speaking a language they had never heard. In less than two weeks, either I had forgotten how to teach or they had no clue what I had taught them over the last four months. This was no dream. This was first period after the holiday recess. I scrambled for the right things to say recognizing that time has a way of bringing things back. Somewhere in a story about my high school teacher, they came back to life.