Want To Understand Teachers? Visit After School

Across the hall,
three eighth grade boys
confront a pile of late work
in math, science, geography.
The English teacher
who welcomed them with snacks
does her best to explain
a tricky equation.

This tireless teacher
knows life is tough for teens
and sometimes a little help
makes all the difference.

Another teacher
joins in —
she teaches none of them,
but teaching is what she is here for.

When covalent bonds
becomes the topic,
the two English teachers
go in search
of a science teacher.

Down the hall
and around a corner,
a science teacher is hosting
six students for help.
She orders pizza on Thursdays
because she knows kids get hungry.

Science teacher to the rescue!
Twenty minutes later,
everyone understands
a new scientific concept.

Scattered throughout the building
on any given day,
this scene repeats itself.

do not give up.
Teachers believe
in the brilliance
of students.
And, teachers know
learning is not limited
to school day hours.

How To Become A Poet

Notice as the round glow
of the flashlight beam
alights on the small spring peeper,
the perfect green of its back,
a shine and shimmer
like new grass heavy with morning dew.

Watch as the tiny frog
fills its throat
with air,
stretching the thin skin
until you fear it might pop.

Listen as the small creature,
no bigger than a thimble,
pours forth a note
so pure,
so lyrical
that you stand mesmerized.

leave the spring peeper
at least tonight
things are right with the world.

The Genius of a Pencil

At heart,
a pencil is
solid graphite. 
But how to keep hands clean
and words clear?

Wood pulped from trees
can protect the smudgeable core.
splinters are real.

Next comes paint.
A bright sunny yellow
will help coax ideas
out the of the most stubborn minds.

And, a hexagonal shape
Makes grip easy.

But what about mistakes?
A small eraser
affixed to the top
eliminates worry
and encourages

Never underestimate
the power of the pencil.

*inspired by Project Zero’s Creative Hunt thinking routine.

Spelling Bee

A simple beehive
containing seven letters,
with the center one a necessity.

How many words can I create?

The New York Times
offers the perfect challenge
for a puzzler
like me.

But many a night,
I stay up way past bedtime
to discover enough words
to crown me a genius.

If only life
were like the Spelling Bee…
my genius would shine through
any situation
if only I could find
the right combination
of words

*inspired by a mentor text (Six Minutes, Twenty-six Seconds) in Linda Rief’s wonderful The Quickwrite Handbook.

No Snow

Daffodils raise their lemon yellow heads
to bask in the sun.
Cherry blossoms awaken
ahead of schedule.

But where was the snow?

No buds had to push up through
a winter blanket
or fend off icicles
hanging on branches.

No snow days,
school delays,
or winter wonderland walks.

Don’t get me wrong…
spring is my favorite season.

the joy of blooming days
is not quite as sweet
without the memory
of snow-kissed winter nights.

Baby Chick

In first grade,
my teacher brought in
an incubator with seven eggs.

Should any of the eggs
the first students to bring in
permission slips
got to take home
a real, live bird.

We watched
and waited,
and waited.

one egg cracked.
another egg splintered.

One fluffy yellow chick
the color of butter
A downy white chick

Nina Miller and I
were first
with signed slips.

a few short days later
the sweet yellow fledgling
came home to roost.

My startled father
held his tongue
as my wild, generous mother
build a cozy, warm
nesting box.

What a lucky child
was I!

Think Time

Today I had the chance
to be a student again.

The afternoon’s
professional development
a topic of interest,
and the instructor
plotted an engaging lesson.

I walked in confident,
but walked out uncertain.

My table group
missed a direction,
fell behind,
and never truly caught up.
The 45 minute session
dictated a rapid pace.

Did we spend too long
on the first discussion question?
The conversation was interesting
and not nearly long enough.

The idea sort was terrific
but we left a critical piece
in the envelope
so struggled to make sense.

We, strong students all,
live in a world
that packs too much
into too little

My most valuable lesson today:
slow it down,
check often,
and offer grace.