Thursday, May 14, 2009
I teach high school. I don't write about it often. I shouldn't care what people think, but seriously, I mean seriously, seriously, many writers think that being a high school teacher means that you aren't a serious writer. I even had a professor in MFA school give me a B+ and say (actually, he wrote it to me in an email), "I am sure you are a really good high school teacher." It was patronizing, condescending, and hurtful. I learned to conceal my profession. In my publication bios, I rarely mention being a high school teacher.
AND THAT IS SO RIDICULOUS. I'm a poet and a high school teacher. I can be talented at more than one thing.
The above picture is that of a really big candy bar that was placed on my desk in my classroom last Friday. Look at the tag. It says, "Have a puddle-wonderful day." Here are some of the other things that are written on the gorgeously wrapped chocolate bar:
The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The GREAT teacher inspires.
A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops.
A writer is one who gives voice to the voiceless.
They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Three reasons to have a writer for a teacher:
1. endless coffee
2. an excuse for a childish mind
Someday I may wish to teach college. Who knows? But I must admit, (and many writers who have visited and worked with my students would agree) teaching high school can be a rewarding, challenging, and beautiful experience. I am blessed each day to work with the students who fill the seats in room 201.
I teach them how to make poems and how to practice empathy through reading and writing. They leave me chocolate bars decorated with e.e.cummings references. I know life isn't all rainbows and puppy dogs, but for some Saran wrapped cliche reason, these kids make me a better person.
We have the best days so very often. Days we will never forget. So I teach them about enjambment and I talk about my pugs and they remind how tender words can be and how happy I am, on most days, to be alive.
Some days are rough and teaching is not always conducive to my own writing, but for the most part, I can't imagine a more puddle-wonderful way to spend my days. Thank you to all of my students. I won't keep you a secret anymore.