Poetry Friday: Code Blue

July 17th, 2009

Matt Copeland, author of Socratic Circles, tried his hand at writing poetry for our Teaching Lives poetry contest. The result is today’s Poetry Friday entry. The contest is still open! Write a poem about your Teaching Life and we’ll publish it on our blog. Winners will be selected by our regular Poetry Friday poem picker, editor Bill Varner. The top five poems will receive a free Stenhouse book. Send your entries to zmcmullin@stenhouse.com by September 1.

by Matt Copeland

 School springs back to life just before first hour
Like a patient defibrillated upon a table.

Still, the looks from down the hall are unmistakable.�
I stand there in front of my door—
Sandwiched between the classrooms
Of Captain Worksheet on one side
And Captain Video on the other—
Thinking about the student-centered,
Innovative, creative activities
That stand waiting only a tardy bell away. 

I want to chase down tradition,
Rip her to shreds, rearrange her,
Make her more than time’s simple crutch. 

I want to address the comment made in the faculty lounge:
“Obviously he doesn’t ever teach anything,
The kids like him too much.” 

But I know I’ll never catch her in that hallway. 

In the time it takes for the command
To move from my brain to my feet,
Three more students have asked for their homework from yesterday,
Two have stopped by to inquire about my evening,
And five have smiled for the first time all morning. 

Arms crossed,
Venomous lips pursed,
Brow pinched to the thoughts of acting human,
She hovers at the far end of the hall. 

I stand in the middle,
Caught between doing what is best for kids
And staying in the good favor of tradition and her minions.

The tardy bell rings and all over the building
Classrooms fall into an arrhythmic apnea.�
I stride into my classroom—closing the door behind me—
And stare into 28 bright faces, pencils ready, eager to learn.�
“Nope,” I want to scream to the heavens
At the top of my lungs,
“I never teach a single thing.”

Entry Filed under: Poetry Friday

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary Lee  |  July 18th, 2009 at 5:15 am

    Huzzah for all the teachers who have the courage to shut their door on “tradition and all her minions” and do what’s right for kids!

  • 2. Mrs. V  |  July 18th, 2009 at 10:51 am

    What an inspiring poem for the common experience that many teachers who want to follow best practices face at one time or another. It captures the essence of what is really important well. I also liked the personification of tradition.

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