Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Art of Answering

With Apologies to Naomi Shihab Nye for my copy change sort of adaptation of  her poem "The Art of Disappearing"

When they say
Aren't you over it?
say no.
When they start trashing other faculty members
remember how we all need to be met where we are
before answering.
Think of the stressors teachers are dealing with--loss of a loved one,
marital problems,
sick children,
too many preps,
furlough days,
the call of common core,
district pressure--
Then reply.

If they say I hate this school,
I can't stand him or her
say why--why don't you try to change that hate?
It’s not that you don’t find the teacher she is speaking of annoying,
the one who sits in her chair yelling at children
or that other teacher griping all the time a demoralizer
or people's weaknesses in your school,
including your own tough to handle.
You’re trying to let go of the hate--and
remember something
too important to forget.
Their bright eyes when they get it.
Their excitement they can hardly contain their engagement.
The time a student was excited when she "really" thought
she was going to watch paint dry with you.
Their pains.
Their troubles.
Their struggles.
Their joy.
Their successes.
Their growth.
The future.
The love of learning without ever ceasing.
The reasons we're here.
The reasons we care.
Gently sigh...then,
tell them you have copies to make,
papers to grade, a student to talk to,
a new unit to create, a novel to write.
Your work will never be finished.

When a gossipy teacher spots you alone
in the teacher's lounge,
nod happily and become an orange,
brighten her day with inspirational stories
of the reasons your there.

When someone seeks you out
and you can find no table to hide under,
no copy machine to hide behind,
tell them all the good things
about your school.
Walk around being that bright happy orange.
Share the thoughts of the good you see around you,
knowing your school's future depends on it.
Maybe she will catch up or catch on,
And not drop a ton of morale killing bricks
taking you down with her,
to the slumps of teaching.
Then, maybe she will get over it
or leave for good.

My literary muse reading her poem:


  1. Wow! Powerful and good advice!"Share your happy thoughts about what you see around you. Knowing that your school's future depends on it." and ultimately our students depend on it. Your writing moves nicely through time and space and has that Naomi Shihab Nye feel. I think you honored her work and ideas!

  2. Love this piece! Has a great flow and rhythm. And I want to share it with teachers, and give them an orange to go with it. :D

  3. I loved this line: "Walk around being that bright happy orange."
    The poem is good advice for what can be a difficult situation (I am glad that I don't run into this in my school. I consider myself lucky.)

  4. Love this! I love the idea of being "an orange". Too often I let myself get sucked into it.


Thanks for reading my writing and sharing your thoughts with me.