At my high school graduation, the class valedictorian opened his speech with a quote from Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.’ I imagine that a few English teachers cringed a bit. Once the speaker encouraged change and innovation, they knew that he had missed the point of the poem.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
TTWA Assignment: Part 1) You are a coach who has just cut an 11-year-old girl from the team. Write an email to her parents, explaining why. Part ) Now you are the school principal. Write an email to the coach who cut the girl from the team, explaining why he is being fired.
Emailing parents is a necessary but irksome job for teachers. The risk to upsetting someone is rather high. I once used the word ‘generosity’ to describe a bumping a deserving student from a C+ to a B-. The parent then replied a day later that her child ‘worked hard’ and did not need any of my ‘generosity.’ Sometimes you learn the hard way.
As a student, it always amused me to stumble upon my teachers outside the classroom: at the mall, in the movie theater, or even on the school parking lot. Somehow it seemed strange to discover that our educators had lives and families outside the school property, as if they had apartments in the teacher lounge or — more abstractly — ceased to exist entirely without their class. I would imagine Mrs. Willis and Mr. Phebus melting from the walls at the ringing of the bells, reforming flesh from discarded glitter glue and construction paper like a Terminator villain armed with copious lesson plans and graded algebra tests.
The motivation behind all scientific discovery begins here . . .
October found me eager and excited, brimming with confidence and creativity for my work . . . at least during weekends. However, Monday mornings broke with the din of a funeral march, disturbing those few early morning dreams and ushering me upstairs upon the family couch while reruns of Law and Order painted visions of murder and desperation before sleep-filled eyes. Waiting to leave the house proved the most trying, as my imagination, planting visions of screaming children and growling soccer moms, tried its damnedest to wrack my body with anxiety, upset my stomach and basically ruin the whole of my week.
Thankfully, I had Dunkin Donuts and their wonderful battalion of iced coffees to attack my flagging spirit and sleep deprivation. Truly, the smell alone had a soothing effect; the extra-large galleon-sized container of liquid energy, a balm to my worries. My imagination, drowning in legal stimulants, learned to behave, and I drove to school, happily contemplating Thanksgiving and Christmas break, only three months away.
The fallout from the field trip befell us the following Monday when Dr. T took us in the conference room for lunch. Slowly Ms. P spilled the story, downplaying our absence at the deli (a little) and deleting the abusive pot-smoker entirely (to be fair, the kids were not involved at all). Continue reading
My lesson on Native Americans allowed us to make ceremonial masks.
“. . . and now I would like to introduce our newest teacher, Mr. Murph . . .”
Dr. T pauses to laugh. A few amused smiles dance across the faces of my fellow teachers. I politely offer a grin, grateful for a few extra minutes to map out my introduction.
“Actually, our second Mr. Murph . . . as you can see we’ve hired not only another Jess, but another Murph as well this year. As many of you know, we already have a Mr. Murph teaching gym,” she gestured toward the grizzled man in grey sweats, two seats down; Mr Murph nodded. “For the sake of the kids, we probably won’t change his name. So we’ll have to think of another nickname for you, Murph. Have you thought up anything yet? Mr. Murphey, maybe?”
“Um . . .” I momentarily falter. “Well, the kids have dubbed me MK . . . uh, using my first and last initials.”
“Ooo . . . I like that . . . Mr. MK,” Ms P, the drama teacher, interjected with a deep British accent. “Kinda rolls off the tongue.”
A frown lingers on Dr. T’s face for a second or two, yet just as quickly, she returns to her sales-pitch, all smiles and gratitude. Two weeks into my teaching post at Unity, and I still felt rather guarded toward the school principal. Though impressions varied among the staff, I treated my employer with polite respect and mild indifference. Continue reading