The Teacher’s Reasons Why

education-614155_1920It’s May. This time of year is both ecstatic joy and utter misery, somehow a simultaneous experience we English teachers chalk up to the definition of “paradox.”

This year is the end of my eighth in education, most of which has been an amalgam of high school and community college teaching.

In short, I’m tired. In length, I wonder how anyone is expected to run this race longer than ten years. Let me explain.

Continue reading “The Teacher’s Reasons Why”

What to Get Your Bookish Friends

Do you know someone bookish? Does he like the company of literature more than the company of others? Does she enjoy the library more than the mall? Can he spend HOURS in a book shop (both commercial and independent) without taking a bathroom break? Do you need last minute gift ideas for a nerdy person you’ve met once or twice, a teacher, your wife?!

Take heart! I have some gift ideas for you. If you don’t want to settle for picking out a book you know they’ll love and writing a lovely inscription, then I guess I can be forced to come up with a few material item suggestions. I’ll start with small, less expensive items and work my way up, pending your monetary allegiance to said person. (We can’t ALL blow our checking accounts on Christmas, after all. Even if we’d like to.)

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A Visit with Lois

“Time goes on, and your life is still there, and you have to live it. After a while you remember the good things more often than the bad. Then, gradually, the empty silent parts of you fill up with sounds of talking and laughter again, and the jagged edges of sadness are softened by memories.” –Summer to Die, Lois Lowry

Here’s the thing. Teaching can get boring. Professionalism, the constant yoke of academia, can get old. Sometimes it’s nice to take students to an event and just have fun, even if that fun needs to be central to school in some way.

So Lois Lowry came to a neighboring town and my speech class all wanted to get sushi and drink coffee and listen to her talk. So we went! We had a great dinner, enjoyed discussion and non-school related time with one another. We even held back the urge to scream out “WHY DIDN’T YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK?!” when remembering the end of the novella The Giver, our post-middle school brains still raw from the memory of the cliff-hanger ending.

Imagine students’ surprise (and my lack thereof) that her lecture was incredibly meaningful.

Continue reading “A Visit with Lois”

Be the Best

We have an incredibly short time to spend with 90% of the people we come into contact with during our days–the paper delivery person, the waitress or waiter, the receptionist–such a very short time. Make that time something they’ll remember you by. Be the version of yourself you’d want to meet for ten seconds. Be the best.” -2013

Have you ever worked customer service? Retail? What about the food industry? Do you know what it’s like to make other people your job?

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Dear Students, This is How I’ll Be Fired

Written at the end of my first year of teaching. Funny how things don’t really change, except the awful metaphor at the end…I wish I would have changed that. 😉 

21 April 2010

I hope someday they tell you you’re pretty, and that you don’t need to keep your opinions to yourself. I cannot tell you this because it might come off wrong and I could lose my job.

So many of you behave like former friends, some platonic and some otherwise. I cannot tell you this because it might come off wrong and I could lose my job.

Continue reading “Dear Students, This is How I’ll Be Fired”

A Study in Censorship

I have struggled this year to understand many things: the minority campaigns declaring their lives matter (of course they matter!), religious terrorism worldwide (I can’t even begin…), and Donald Trump (I *really* can’t even begin…). One issue that has been recurrent both personally and professionally is the idea and practice of censorship.

Early in the school year, I felt a strong pull to start a school book club. My idea was to have a Banned Book Club, which was born from the hope that students would be more intrigued by a book if it’d been banned. If they’re banned books, surely there must be something risqué in there! Maybe there’s even cussing! … sexual tension! …real-world, teenage problems! 

My superiors did not necessarily agree with my idea. Continue reading “A Study in Censorship”

Keep breathing, teachers. In and out.

It’s April, teachers. You’re almost there.

New teachers may be inclined to think that “veteran” teachers have their craft mastered, their evenings free, and their lessons detailed down to the minute. New teachers may also be inclined to think that those who’ve been in the profession have it easier or, at the very least, have more of it “figured out.”

What a load of crap.

The end of this year will mark my seventh in teaching. While that still makes me fairly new to the race, when I was a new teacher I prefigured that I’d have more of this mastered by now.

News flash: I don’t. Even bigger news flash: I won’t–ever. Here’s a brief list why that will be true for as long as I, or anyone else, is in the profession. There’s also a few absolute true-isms just in case you are new(er) to the race, too (aka – Stuff Newbies Need to Know).

Continue reading “Keep breathing, teachers. In and out.”

Letter to my First-Year-Teacher Self

Letter to my First-Year-of-Teaching Self,

Calm down or you’re going to sweat through that adorable blouse by 8:30 a.m.

First of all—congratulations! You’re here! You were picked over a handful of other very worthy candidates to teach at this school! You already know these kids are great, and they want you here. Think about that for just a second. It’s like the professional version of dodgeball when you were a kid… you’ve been selected to be on the team AND no one has thrown anything at you yet! And look at you. You definitely grew out of that awkward, gangly teenager phase, which will now be interesting when you teach teenagers that would have made fun of you in high school. Oh, the irony… and you’ll teach them about that irony (dramatic, verbal, and situational!), won’t you!?

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He Did Me a Favor

Why not?

Tell the student who pretends you’re stupid, unfair, and mean that you’ll help him. Repeat yourself when he refuses you for the third time. Sit with him longer than needed so that he knows you’re serious; when you do walk away it will be his choice, not yours. Remind yourself that this is where grace comes from.

He’s doing you a favor.

Why not?

Accept that not everyone who asks you out on a date is emotionally responsible. Sometimes people just want to know they are attractive. Not everyone will respect your feelings, and some will hurt you. Tell yourself we’re all learning, and this person offered you a chance to see weakness and forgive it.

He did you a favor.

Why not?

Act like someone who ignores his child due to petty circumstances as probably too insecure to be an adequate parent. Pretend he’s doing the best he can, just like you.

He’s doing you a favor.

Why not?

Decide the person who left you while you were married wasn’t truly meant for you and had the foresight to leave you open for new opportunities. Tell yourself he must have known he couldn’t be the man you deserve.

He did you a favor.

Why not?

Accept that God puts people in our lives for lessons, learning, and–sometimes– livid disappointment. We do not get to decide why; we do get to learn and leave it to be summed up as “life.” Decide that it’s OK not to know, it’s OK to let go, and it’s OK to love all of it–even the ugly parts.

He’s always doing you a favor.