Slice of Life 2021 Day 6: What You Think About

I’m writing each day in March as part of the Slice of Life Challenge. Enjoy!

What you think about
when you’re a teacher
isn’t the grade book
the test score
or paper work

What you think about
when you’re a teacher
isn’t the holy cow! units
the whiz-bang lessons
or even the crashers and burners

What you think about
when you’re a teacher
isn’t the tweets and mentions
the thank yous
or attagirls and you-got-thises

What you think about
when you’re a teacher
is the

one who
you haven’t reached [yet]
you think about
you carry home in your back pocket

so
you keep trying
working
coaxing
assuring

that everyone is broken
but no one needs fixing
and we all need to be seen
and met in place
and reminded we are perfect and whole

What matters
is the day
that the
one
will hear you

even if believing comes later

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27 Responses to “Slice of Life 2021 Day 6: What You Think About”

  1. Suzanne Says:

    Wow, this is so powerful because it is so true. Our kids live in our heads and then there is the one that lives in your back pocket. The puzzle du jour! Because I find they trade places, move in and out of being true believers as the year goes on. And hearing is the first step! Thank you for this!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! I’m not sure how much non-teachers realize how VERY MUCH of our mental space is taken up with our loveys, how closely to our hearts they are carried. And you’re right – they DO trade places as their faith ebbs and flows.

  2. lvahey Says:

    I have felt this way, too, and really really appreciate your second to last stanza, especially these lines: “that everyone is broken//
    but no one needs fixing”. Yes. That knowledge has been a change for me – starting in education as a fixer (over 25 years ago!) and learning to meet in place, instead. Thank you for the poetic reminder.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      YES! And I’ve found I build the most sincere, earnest relationships with my kids when I’m honest with them. Growing up does not mean that everything is all of a sudden “fixed” for them. I think it helps validate the struggles they go through and (hopefully) feel less alone. And…like you, I’m a lifelong teacher who ALSO started out with some very different ideas…

  3. thewriteapple Says:

    Yes! You’re such a kind, caring teacher. It sounds like you never give up. Your students are fortunate to have you and I like how you wrote “one who you haven’t reached (yet)”. I am sure you will, and that student will never forget you.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks for those kind words! Actually, this poem was in response to a conversation with one said student – I think there’s a small chance I *may* have gotten close to reaching her. I needed to put that joy someplace. =)

  4. rissa Says:

    Beautiful and true and completely exhausting!

  5. Marcia Oates Says:

    Upon my retirement, I have children who I still hold in my heart. We needed some more time together, but the weird ending of last year prevented it. I have entrusted their care to the strong and loving hands and hearts of my colleagues. But I will always wonder…

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      YES, absolutely. As I say, once a lovey, always a lovey. I think you and I both know that feeling of having kids that we wish we could tuck under our wings for longer, longer, just…a bit…longer…

  6. mschiubookawrites Says:

    Your last two stanzas made my heart ache… the buildup leading to your message is so on point. Expressed so exquisitely- thank you!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank YOU! I had a feeling this one would resonate. I feel like all of us teachers can relate to having students we worry about, long after we’ve gone home. And, for that matter, we carry them with us long after they’ve left left our classrooms.

  7. maureenyoungingram Says:

    This stanza made my tears well up:
    “that everyone is broken
    but no one needs fixing
    and we all need to be seen
    and met in place
    and reminded we are perfect and whole”
    What a gift you are to your students! Yes, yes, you are right, this is what we carry home – the students we are trying to reach, fear we are failing. So beautiful.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you. And YES. That fear we are failing our children, it haunts us. No matter how long we’re educators, that concern for children will forever drive us.

  8. gbrock Says:

    Your post was in a word, Powerful. Thanking you for the soul-satisfying words in your blog today. I couldn’t agree more!

  9. Orval Jewett Says:

    Such a beautiful poem. I wish there were a simple way to learn how to write poems. Your writing is so eloquent, poignant. Thank you.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ohh but there IS! Promise me you’ll do this very small challenge. And if you do, comment back! Here’s a baby step. Take a piece of writing that you really like. Got it? Now. Rewrite it, with line breaks where you think they might come in handy. You have now officially written a poem. ❤

  10. arjeha Says:

    Oh how true. I don’t know of any other profession that takes their work home with them the way teachers do. We obsess over the one we haven’t yet reached and rejoice when we finally get through.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      ExACTly. And while I haven’t gotten myself entirely in the clear, there *is* a lovey I may have reached a point of light with. A girl can dream!

  11. theapplesinmyorchard Says:

    Beautiful, Lainie! This is so true – it used to be true for me as an NP too….the child I would think and worry about was the one I wasn’t sure about their diagnosis, their prognosis, or the support they’d have at home. As I teacher, the ones I worried about were the ones not picked up after garden club (how can anyone forget to pick up their second-grader from an after-school club?) Unfortunately, it happens. Those are the children I carry around in my back pocket. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt poem.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you so much! There have been LOTS of reasons I’ve carried my loveys with me over the years. THAT couple probably be its own blog post, although…probably not my most uplifting one…

  12. Tim Gels Says:

    There’s so much to love here. So often the believing does come later, but our part comes now. Thank you for this, it really is wonderful and true.

  13. Fran Haley Says:

    assuring

    that everyone is broken
    but no one needs fixing
    and we all need to be seen
    and met in place
    and reminded we are perfect and whole

    Truths, truths, truths – I wish every teacher would read this post, Lainie. I believe everyone comes from a good place, but many fixate on “deficits” and nothing good and whole or healing comes from that.

    We have but moments, to plant the seeds of believing.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks, Fran. Of course, that’s why I call my blog “Ed soapbox” – because I like to stand on my tiptoes and shout what I wish folks could really hear.

      And YES. fleeting moments that we have to capture and plant these seeds. The lovey that I’m trying to bring in? I’m not 100% positive, but I *think* I just saw a bit of green poking from the earth. Keep your fingers crossed.

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