I know this title seems obvious, but it bears stating. Sometimes, teachers need to remember that the annoying, obnoxious, head-splitting monster sitting in their classrooms is someone’s darling baby. Keeping that in mind helps a teacher approach students with lovingkindness. Of course, expectations must be set. Redirects are launched. Rules are followed.
But, when we teachers remember that each and every one of these students is the love of a parent’s life, patience is better followed. And patience is something every teacher practices on a moment-to-moment basis. Deep breath. Consider, then speak. Are comments intended to help a child succeed? Is criticism provided to strengthen a student’s skills? This is the role of a “good” teacher.
Our job is to not demoralize a student, but to build him/her up. And children have bad days, too. There are family dynamics that must be considered. Kids come to the classroom not in a vacuum, but in context. I used to tell my high school juniors when they came into my classroom wailing about having a fight with their mamas, “Good. You need to have conflicts with your moms. How else are they going to let you leave for college? If you had a perfect relationship with absolutely no problems, mamas would never let you leave the nest. Fly, birdie, fly.”
That may seem unnecessarily flippant, but it’s true. As my child transitions into adolescence, I realize that his autonomous, growing-up self is striving for the independence he needs in order to leave home. I have many moments when I tilt my head at his behaviors. He makes mistakes. He errs in judgment. But, he’s learning. He’s maturing and growing and testing out his new independence.
However, in the process, I pray each and every one of his teachers see the darling baby I still see in his eyes. He may be five foot nine inches tall and awkward and gangly… but he was once a squishy, yummy baby. He’s still MY baby.
And that reminds me… each and every one of my students is someone’s baby, too.
Elizabeth Beck is a mother and a teacher. She is the author of two books of poetry. In 2011, she founded The Teen Howl Poetry Series that serves the youth of central Kentucky. For more information about Elizabeth, please visit: elizbeck.com
One child wakes in the grey bite of morning,
he needs to know where bodies
go after death.
She promises to hold the weight
of that question until he is grown
enough to care for it,
promises she will help him look
for clues along the way, reads
him back to sleep.
Her own dreams blend and sag
like painted handprints glopped
onto fine paper,
her waking hours get buried
in the rattle-hum of clothes washing,
cinder in the day-heat oven,
pinch in the sweaty breaths of her husband’s
She is lisped, salt-dried, seedless.
but when the baby wakes, in a hungry fit,
she’ll spoon what’s left of her words
into his sounding mouth.
Megan Merchant graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas after completing her M.F.A degree in poetry. Her poems and translations have appeared in publications including the Atlanta Review, Kennesaw Review, Margie, International Poetry Review and The Poetry of Yoga. She was the winner of the Las Vegas Poets Prize, judged by Tony Hoagland. Translucent, Sealed, is her first chapbook publication though Dancing Girl Press. Her ﬁrst full-length collection, Gravel Ghosts, is forthcoming though Glass Lyre Press. Her ﬁrst children’s book, These Words I’ve Shaped For You, will be appearing in 2016 through Philomel Books. Her future is bright. She wears shades.
Children, now considered
Optional & fully expendable nuisances;
Objects which distract, degrade
& interfere with any real,
I beg to differ.
My three distinct & daring
Daughters have always been my
Very best poems.
Word now published,
They fully live:
Conceived & birthed with deepest
Impulse, inspiration nurtured
& deliberately raised up,
That of themselves
Grown as bold legacies
To true creation, both stanza parts strands
I helped write & those poetic
Lines they now
Elizabeth Perdomo has lived and written in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas these past fourteen years, moving to the region from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Born in Kansas, and raised both there and in Colorado, she has written poetry works since a young teen. Perdomo also lived in the Southeastern USA for a number of years. Perdiomo home birthed and homeschooled 3 daughters until college. Her written pieces reflects on local place and culture, cooking, gardening, ecology and nature, traditions, spirituality and much more.
The evening is a long streak
of sleek bodies and noise,
trains at rush hour,
Doppler and dangerous
for bystanders too close. This is what boys do,
I have been warned.
All elbows and motion,
collusion and collision.
Still years from the first
scratch of the blade or
deepening of a vowel,
my son brandishes
his ticket to Manhood. Shoving
with newfound ferocity
into the unruly line,
he leaps on board a one-way ride
with no brakes,
no one steering,
all their arms waving
wildly from the windows
as they fly past me.
Lauren Cerruto loves the taste of words, especially when they are well prepared. She has a BA in English from the University of Virginia, where she studied poetry with Greg Orr, Deborah Nystrom, and Rita Dove. Her poems have appeared in Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, The Journal of NJ Poets, The Paterson Literary Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Cliterature, Poets Online, and in a final exam at West Point Military Academy. She is currently working on a poetry chapbook and a novel.