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Of Lunacy and Rabid Dogs

M enters my classroom on the first day of school tall and quiet and skinny. His eyes carry a haunted expression.

M is a Syrian refugee.



There. There it is in print. Today I lost my job.

Today I lost my job. Today.I.Lost.My.Job. I lost my job. I lost my job I lost my job I lost my job oh my God I LOST MY JOB.

A Mantra

I walk into the meeting.

I am a good teacher.

I listen to the talk of test scores.

I am a good teacher.

I try to keep my mouth shut.

I am a good teacher.


Dear Bailey

Those things inspired my students. Those things would inspire your students too.

None of those are a test.




But in an era where too much is expected of teachers and students, too much is supposed to be crammed into young brains–often before they are ready–this was a disruption. We used to call them teachable moments. Nowadays many schools forbid them, overtly or not.


Hide and Seek

I hastily pull down window shades as I put on my best “fun teacher voice” and tell my class we’re playing a game. The principal is looking for us so we’re going to play hide and seek. Everyone–even you–have to be quiet so no one can find us.


The Last Time

Maybe there will be a next time.

Maybe there won’t be.


In the next few days my stress and anxiety go into overdrive. I run a fever. I’m sick to my stomach. I spend a lot of time crying or on the verge of tears. I swallow my pride and ask any and all friends to let me know if they know of job openings…because I lost my job.

I can cycle through the five stages of grief in as many minutes, only to wind up at the beginning again.

I pack boxes. And more boxes. I fill my car to capacity, sometimes twice in one day. The deadline to have everything out is looming, and time isn’t on my side.

Nothing seems to be on my side these days.

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