Friday, October 15, 2010


He said, "Miss, I'm gonna tell them you should be teacher of the year."

"Please don't," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I might win and then they'd give me that glass apple and make me give a speech. I don't like making speeches."

He smiled at me and took his seat. He took off his hat and put it in his book bag. They never take off their hats, these kids. But they do in my room. I think it's because I don't notice that they have them on and then get in trouble when administrators knock on my door.

My lack of rule enforcement has somehow influenced their respect. Go figure.

I'm teaching Civics to a group of kids who don't know who our Governor is. They don't know about our system of government and they don't care. They know that when they leave this building they are unsafe. The police don't trust them. Other kids wait to jump them.

I asked them the other day.. "This is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Do you feel brave and free?" They said no.

"What makes you feel unsafe? What takes away your bravery?" I asked them. One girl, tiny and amazingly beautiful underneath the hairspray whispered.. "The cops."

Hmmmm. I'm in way over my head. In SO many ways. Skewed and splattered. A writer out in the world. I can't change this, backspace over it, revise it. It's not my story.

These kids are starfish. Beached and making sand angels. Waiting to be tossed back into the sea.

How the hell did I get here?


  1. You know what happens with starfish though. If they are injured, they regenerate.

  2. It is amazing to me what you can do with words.

    You're tossing more starfish in than you think. And sometimes, we can only get them near the water's edge to where they find the ocean themselves. The rest is God's hand in the waves.

  3. I don't know if this is true, or part of something bigger you've written, but it gave me the shivers.

  4. I hope you are back teaching,, i havent forgotten about the Economics explaination,,lol

  5. "It's not my story." And yet, you've made it somewhat yours and ours. We see through your powerful words the other. We glimpse a wariness and fear that one teacher can soften enough that caps are respectfully removed.

  6. Thank you for this post. It was lovely.

  7. This is very good. Coming from an urban background, this was very easy to relate to. Like a starfish is very appropriate… Thanks

  8. Even with what these kids don't know or don't want to do, you're planting some wonderful seeds in their minds.

  9. I adore the line: "These kids are starfish. Beached and making sand angels. Waiting to be tossed back into the sea." Poetry in the midst of prose.

  10. This sounds like the perfect place to define what matters. Life should be lived over our head. Everything else leads to being in rutts.

  11. Beautiful. I enjoyed reading that.

  12. I wonder if there is, what it is we can do to make them feel safer.

    We are all in over our heads with the trouble and stress these young people face.