And other excerpts from my journal:

There are a lot of reasons I became a teacher, and it wasn’t a split-second decision. I’ve known I wanted to teach since I was in second grade—when I stole worksheets from my teacher and made my brother do them at home.

Javon began the year like an angel and turned into a rebel.

You want to know something even more embarrassing about what’s going in my classroom right now? I spent three hours last night preparing this hour-long lesson, this clown car pile-up. I thought about an anticipatory set, a mini-lesson, and structures for work time. I brushed up on my Bloom’s Taxonomy, my multiple intelligences, and my IEP accommodations.

Now a wandering teacher plays Whac-a-mole with off-task behaviors.

here is magic, bent and folded
reshaped and reimagined
here is teaching transformed and multiplied

hundred-dollar hairdos

Their jeans must wonder why gravity is so demanding.

You smell like tortillas!
Call my dad and tell him I have an A.
Just because you’re the teacher doesn’t mean you’re making sense.
You gotta get your grades up, fool; that’s your future, homie.
Naw, man. Math is hella cool sometimes.

When I was six, standing in front of people and talking seemed cool.

Here is my classroom: desks covered with graphite and ink, a floor tattooed by gum and covered with sticky notes, a student library perpetually disorganized, a projector screen dangling from metal rods, an ugly purple rug covering an extension cord, and a pencil sharpener broken once, twice, three times.

And oh: as many types of chairs as there are students.

Rosita’s father told her, “When you get a teacher who is only there for the money, you must learn on your own.”

The depressing thing about my current disaster: I like to talk about teaching as if I know what I’m doing. When twenty-five fourteen-year-olds go wildly out of control in a classroom managed by someone who’s been preparing for this particular lesson, this particular transition, these particular students for the past seven years, it burns the ego.

I cannot allow Rosita to believe this is for the money.

James Boutin teaches language arts and social studies just south of Seattle, Wash. He has previously taught in New York City; Washington, DC; and Knoxville, Tenn. He blogs about education at An Urban Teacher’s Education.



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