Trapped Souls

I don’t like birds. They flaunt their freedom at the children. “Look! I can fly away!” they seem to be telling them. And the students, stuck at their desks, peering over their pencils, snarl with jealousy and hatred. I also feel jealous because I cannot fly and the birds remind me of that fact. I watch through my open door as they strut across the courtyard with their chests out like little administrators. Sometimes I throw them chocolate or chunks of salt because I hate them and, I believe, removing the distraction of birds would raise our test scores. Yesterday one of the birds I had poisoned hopped into our classroom and could not find its way out. Of course all the girls wanted to save it and many of the boys wanted to smash it with the broom. They chased the bird around the classroom for twenty-five minutes. Owen, who plays baseball for Junior Varsity and brings his bat to class, shattered my front window with one bad swing. I thought the bird would fly out then, but Coby trapped it inside a trash bin, which he turned upside down on the floor. We all listened to the bird thump against the sides for a while. Then I noticed the kids looking at me and I thought that maybe they saw themselves inside the bin, metaphorically speaking: trapped souls inside an unfeeling bureaucratic system. And I had the power to release them!…metaphorically. So I dragged the bin outside and ripped it away with a flourish. “Fly, little bird, Fly!” I yelled. But the lip of the bin had caught a wing and the bird went tumbling across the pavement and never moved again. So we had killed our distraction, I thought. But wrong. Everybody just stood around and stared at the dead bird. Finally Emily and Josh scooped it up with a magazine and buried it in the garden.
Embrace the Ick


Burn This Mother To The Ground!

I offer unlimited extra-credit for dressing up like a character in a book and double unlimited extra-credit for staying in character for the entire period. Juan, who needed points, came as Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. He had the wig and knee-high combat boots and a little scowl that never left his face….He looked good! He jumped on my desk and gave a rousing speech to the class where he compared our school to an Orwellian state that exploits and represses kids. I don’t remember the details of what he said–it might have been lines from the movie or a series of disconnected ideas that he made up on the spot (I couldn’t tell)–but he ended by waving his crossbow and telling us to “burn this mother to the ground!” Then everybody cheered and ran out screaming, presumably to destroy the school. I fell back into my desk applauding and pumping my fists into the air. After a few minutes I decided that I better check up on them, so I went to the admin building and there was Juan lying on the ground with handcuffs on. Apparently you are still not allowed to bring a crossbow to school. The rest of the kids watched him get put into the back seat of the cop car and driven away. Zoie T. told me that it was just like the movie.
Fireside Chat

The Copyroom

Hard-working teachers need access to their classrooms and all of the resources that we use to create 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Sometimes inspiration for a lesson will strike at 3am and I will leap out of bed, drive to school and rearrange my desk configuration or spritz clean my whiteboard or even run the copy machine. This access is vitally important because teaching is vitally important and teachers don’t stop collecting and creating just because they are on vacation or asleep. Now this morning I was awoken by an email from a colleague who did not have access to the copy-room because she had not been granted access. Of course I immediately drove to school and let her into the building so that she could work during the holiday on her classroom. Then I went to the corner locksmith and duplicated my key and gave her one. She was very grateful, though she acted concerned that I had no authority to remake the key or distribute them. After all, she argued, she was just a twenty-three year-old student teacher with no credential and had not even been hired or vetted by the district. But I told her that her desire to come to work on the Friday after Christmas was qualification enough. I tapped her shoulder and dubbed her a “real teacher” and then bestowed her very own copyroom key. Praise youth!