One Teacher’s Journal

April 18, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

JD DeHart

Teaching in public schools is a mix of positive and negative; a well-meaning professional must guard their hearts and keep their intentions clear from day one. What follows is a series of fictionalized vignettes written with the purpose of exploring the teaching profession.

 

 

Aren’t You Too Young?

 

“I remember the days when you had a smile on your face like you could conquer the world,” one person said to him. It struck him because it was true. His smile had faded.

“Aren’t you too young to be doing this? Shouldn’t you be in in-school suspension?” a parent quirked at him. Yes, he was pretty young.

The first time he stood in front of a row of desks with actual bodies in them, the feeling was overwhelmingly frightening. He was just getting used to the building. Now he was responsible for content.

Marker in trembling hand, he made strokes on the board. The year was busy, and the first year is often treated as a blitz; later he would not remember what was said or done, but he was sure it could have been better.

 

 

 

 

 

Bus Duty and Bathroom Walls

 

They write their messages of anguish on bathroom walls and on the spines of books. The students write that the teacher should not use the same book, that he is gay, and other more offensive messages. They do not want to be here. In a world where education is a premium experience and others try desperately to go to school, they have education handed to them on a platter and they turn up their nose.

Maybe it is the testing. Test one starts in August or September, with test two in November or December, and test three in March. There is a larger writing test, usually in winter, and a larger final test in late spring. They have been trained to take this test. Classroom practice consists of sample questions, and if a teacher deviates from the material at all, he or she is not following the standards and curriculum. It does not matter if the teacher is an expert in content or not. The standards must be taught, the test must be taken, and the process continues.

A pencil bounces off of his chest as he stands, one dauntless figure in front of a sea of about 100-150 adolescents. This is bus duty, the bottom of the bird cage, the screaming of children ready to be set free, tired of each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Conversations

 

Conversations come out through cracks in doors, whispers and rumors. Conversations happen too loudly in hallway corners.

“Why do the teachers talk about us?” one child asks him. He does not know what to say.

“I don’t read,” some of the kids say. The teachers echo them.

There are dedicated teachers who plan, struggle, and implement. They spent their wisely and care. They get to know their students, and it’s not just a club or clique thing. He’s seen them, and he knows.

Then there are others.

Learning is not a resource that is immediately consumed. When we are thirsty, we drink water. When we don’t know, sometimes we sit and wait and do nothing. Education is a privilege, but in some areas it is seen as a curse, little more than a holding tank for children until they are ready for the real world.

To survive and thrive in this noble profession, a teacher must intentionally focus on the positive, dig into the process of what it is to be a learner, and attempt to create an environment where processes like reading are valued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jddehart

JD DeHart

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from RedDashboard.

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