Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What teachers notice does make a difference

April 19, 2011 “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Rita Dove

The Teacher Should Know Better

In the afternoon, a contest. The class begins.

She doesn’t know not everybody wins!

A single boy leans back in his chair,

All his classmates swirling everywhere.

He tastes nothing; his mouth is dry.

It isn’t the time to let out a cry.

It would be easier to exit the room,

to amble down the hall, humming a tune.

But instead he stays, pretends to read,

wishing just one someone would notice his need.

The teacher calls again, for all to hurry;

both boys and girls respond and scurry.

The boy sits idly, watching above his book;

his eyes squint at other boys—darting looks.

Gazes do not stop at him, but instead fade

across the room to be sure another pair is made.

Why doesn’t the teacher understand her task

well enough to complete the proper math?

Is twenty-one, one too many, or one too few?

In this boy’s eyes, neither will ever do.


  1. This is a twice read poem.
    Thoughtful words. I hope I've noticed him. Sad to say, we've probably all missed him at one time or another.

  2. You've made me stop and really think. I, too, hope I've noticed him.

  3. What a thoughtful and reflective poem. We have all had a child or two that tries to hide into the woodwork. Thank you for the reminder to always notice the whole child...and often!

  4. A sad thoughtful poem. Makes anyone stop and think.

  5. Ahh, those children who try to hide in plain sight...those are the ones I think about late at night and wonder if I've done enough. This poem is one to make me think again...Really like this line, "But instead he stays, pretends to read, wishing just one someone would notice his need."

  6. A very sensitive and thought provoking poem. I have heard stories of children who have been missed and I hope that I don't miss them. Today it is tougher than ever to see everyone when we have those who reach out to us in such loud or outright blatant behavior that we can seem to get to those who are quiet or don't have those behaviors. I do my best to try to get to everyone, but it is hard. Thanks for the reminder. Keep slicing! :)

  7. Makes one think of the many we cannot reach for whatever reason, and middle schoolers hide so well! Can you imagine kids just learning through computers only? Many say that's how it's going to go. Just a lot to think about now that I have grandchildren.


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