08 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 8 ~ my day

Process Notes:
This piece came rather quickly and writing it was cathartic. This is a snapshot of one of my literacy classes. I work as a reading and English teacher for middle school students who struggle with reading, some of them are non readers, they are aliterate. One class with seven students is particularly difficult to manage. Today I almost cried when I lost them. Fury, and the fear of tears sent me into the hall so I could gather myself before addressing them. As I never leave my classroom, they quieted immediately, maybe fearing my return...feeling remorse...shocked into silence...mocking me? Don't get me wrong--I love my students and I love that they feel free to be themselves in my classroom; if they are themselves they are more open to learning. It usually works. They pushed too far today, and I lost them. A day of instruction flushed. Children fall through cracks.


my day

Disrespect taps its pencil
unable to sit still.
Peers titter and
trash talk
until curricular delivery
falls flat and
my blood vessels quiver
like gills in air.

Weathered and tethered
I am temporary.

Days engender decades.
Seconds spent distracted
ingest erudition later.
The entertainment
belching brings
will wane.

Pedagogical plunder
plunges children
deeper into cracks.

Allowing authenticity
combats apathy, so
fish stories fly
crossing lines that waver and bob.
Tapped out boy peacocks and
carps criticism to rouse
his rival, and all eyes
turn toward me.

Stifling an eruption,
I leave my students,
stand in the hall
and breathe.

Shout out to Big Tent Poetry for the prompts this week, and a place to post. While I didn't follow it directly, my goal was to write a piece with lungs in it. That was prompt 3 this week.

I'm also posting this at Writer's Island, and am grateful to them for a place to post every day this month, and always on Saturdays.


Anonymous said...

An emotional poem, passionate and heartfelt. Thanks for sharing the background.

Love that last stanza.

Linda said...

I know the feeling—I, too, have been in that exact spot. Teaching special needs youngsters is both challenging and rewarding. You have captured it and your frustration. Great poem.

Marianne said...

You've got some great alliteration in this piece. I admire what you do and I have great empathy for your frustrations. You've told the story of a true hero. "Stifling an eruption,
I leave my students, stand in the hall
and breathe." Wonderful ending.

Ron. said...

This former (9 yrs) Special Educator knows the exasperation all too well. You nailed the moment(s).

Stan Ski said...

And sometimes it just takes that intake of breath to release the tension...

M. A. S. said...

The poem sounds beautiful, but it's hard for me to separate the language from the meaning, or the intent, or the feeling, or the whatever you want to call it. As a teacher, I understand every syllable you typed out. I work with very struggling readers, too. I especially like "days endanger decades." Anyway, I love it. Not just because it is familiar, but also beautifully crafted.


flaubert said...

Brenda, I read this late last night and much too tired to leave a comment. So here goes ... I knew you were a teacher, but I did not know to what capacity. I admire your obvious compassion for your kids, if there were only more teachers like you in the states, education might not be on the slippery downhill slide that is on. Your poem conveys the frustration when losing control of something that you have passion for, that being your kids. Awesome write.

btw, I hope this makes sense


gautami tripathy said...

You captured it very well...

order of the day

Elizabeth said...

You and I are on a very similar wavelength today. I taught adults, who payed for the learning, but I still understand the pain and frustration that fuels your poem. Brava, for getting up and leaving the room. Others would have done damage.


barbara said...

All those alliterations. I can feel you gathering yourself up again with reasoning.
don't forget to exhale

Jingle said...

moving words...

Gloria said...

After 30 years as a special educator, I can really relate to this one. You've expressed it beautifully. Great response to the prompt!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I'm a public schools education advocate... my heart goes out to you. You are working with the kids who are hardest to reach, to teach, and often they have parents (or only one, struggling to keep the home together either way) who simply don't have the energy to help them at home. I was a single mom for years, but I was blessed with a motivated kid... bless you for hanging in there. Summer is coming, my dear. Now here is a little chuckle for you:
Love, Amy

Mr. Walker said...

You had me from that first line. It may have been a quick write, but it seems very deliberate and measured, with real structure. And the ending was just right. It's strong all the way through - you nailed it.

I'm in the midst of standardized testing with my students. They are working hard first thing in the morning and are taking the test seriously, but then they're pretty much worthless for the rest of the day after that. Giggly and releasing tension which I completely understand. So, I've had similar days recently.

brenda w said...

In one fell swoop, I want to thank you all for encouraging me. The process notes are hard for me to reread. I wrote "They pushed me too far." Maybe it should say, "I did not engage them; they were bored or they didn't get it."

It's interesting how many online poets are or have been teachers. Yay us! Teachers with soul...we need to wake it up in them...that soul. Get them writing!

Tumblewords: said...

Well said. It must be very difficult - teaching trapped by discipline.

vivinfrance said...

My heart goes out to you in your distress, and for cauterising that distress in a poem. You are doing a fine thing in bringing non-readers into the light.

Children can be monsters - I remember our class sending our young latin teacher from the room in tears, and the shame I felt still lives with me.

LKHarris-Kolp said...

Excellent choice of words to express this powerful and emotional piece. Bless you... hope you have a relaxing weekend!


Cathy said...

Perfectly written. I work at a library and know some this kids are nothing but brats!