Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

18 May 2006

Everybody's apple pie, even the man next door can sing.

So graduation is approaching and things are getting intense. I'm advising the production by eighth grade graduates-to-be of a literary magazine called Endless Thoughts -- a somewhat overwrought title, I feel, but a tradition -- which is due to go to the printer on Monday, and students are scrambling to raise the thousand and change we need for our modest run, type in the accepted poems and stories and place them with art, artfully, on digital pages, and deliver it all on time by the end of school tomorrow. My students are phenomenal. At the same time they're doing this, six of them will be competing tomorrow in the Poetry Out Loud school semifinals, reciting poems from memory in three rounds. One eighth and one seventh grader will advance to the finals; everyone in both grades will take a bus trip to Berkeley next Wednesday to cheer them on. And the week after that we're all going on a four-day whitewater rafting trip on the south fork of the American River.

Intense, all the emotion and activity, the great drama. That's what I really love about this job: teaching has a much better narrative structure than most lines of employment. Each year has a beginning and an end, and characters undergo profound transformation in their waltz from plot point to plot point along the way. Introduction, body, conclusion. Variations on themes, archetypes. Revision, refinement. New edition every year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

News from a different type of teaching, half-way around the world, my students have done the following:

Juan has learned to swallow his druel, most of the time, curse in English, talk about sex, and laugh appropriately at jokes.

Jennifer has learned the subtle themes of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Alex has mostly stopped screaming in people's ears.

Jenny has a job and will graduate, for good (we hope!), but still greatly enjoys singing songs from Sesame Street and making various animal noises.

But, you know, these are different types of kids from yours...

We're all going to the zoo for our end of the year trip. It's a nice ending. We'll freak out the penguins and take many pictures. Again.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im really glad to see that your still teaching, I thought you were a great one, Keep at it, and if you have the chance listen to jenny lewis from rilo kileys new solo album with the watson twins. Melissa Gray, Arts core

4:20 PM  
Blogger Felix Helix said...

Way cool! That's my first comment from a former student -- one of my very favorites, I might add, though teachers aren't supposed to have favorites.

I'm not sure who the first anonymous is -- do I know you, or were you just passing through? Yours sounds like an interesting and varied group. One thing about teaching -- it's never boring. (And if it is, you need to find a different job.)

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am someone you know very well, gulligplutt. I taught you to say "shut up you fucking dog" in Swedish, once. I just want my varied students to be anonymous.

No, it never ever gets boring. That's what I love about it. Among other things. I'm one of those "special" teachers you know-- we go under different names. One of my favorite quotes of the year (although really sad if you think about it too much): "Yay! I get an 'f' for 'effort'!" I give myself an 'f' all the time now.

I also have clearly varied feelings about different students. I mean, I have favorites. I have kids who could show up at my doorstep with a sleeping bag, and I would let them live with me for months on end, if they needed a place to stay. And I have kids who would show up on my doorstep, and I would think, "Where did she get my address? How will I get rid of her?" But I try not to let on too much at school. We're only human, right? But elementary school teachers, they aren't human. They ride an escelator up to heaven at night to sleep. Or so I always thought when I was seven.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Felix Helix said...

Actually, elementary school teachers are really human-sized insects who stay at school after hours, eating wood chips and barleycorn, until the sun goes down and they line up in the principal's office, fold up their gangly bodies into compact packages that look like walking sticks, and stack themselves neatly in the janitor's closet, unsleeping, unmoving, unblinking, to wait for the first streaks of dawn.

Watch out for the mandibles. That's all I'm gonna say.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my! I believe I may have eaten some once on an ill-fated trip to the far east, deep fried and chocolate covered...

Off the topic, I've notice all of my friends with on-line journals now have this security device wherein you verify a word that isn't a word. Okay, fine, I got used to that, but just recently a new icon has appeared next to the word verification box: a blue wheelchair, like the ones you see on handicapped parking spots. What da? People in wheelchairs can now leave messages? But I thought they could leave messages before... I'm confused.

5:01 PM  

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