Excerpt 1

I Am a Teacher

I read Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every year, and every year when Charlie finds the golden ticket and Charlotte dies, I cry.

I take slivers out of fingers and bad sports out of steal the bacon.  I know when a child has gum in his mouth even when he is not chewing.  I have sung “Happy Birthday” 657 times.

I hand over scissors with the handles up. My copies of The Velveteen Rabbit and Treasure Island are falling apart.  I can listen to one child talk about his birthday party and another talk about her sleepover and another talk about getting his stomach pumped last night – all at the same time.

I fix staplers that won’t staple and zippers that won’t zip, and I poke pins in the orange caps of glue bottles that will not pour.  I had out papers and pencils and stickers and envelopes for newly pulled teeth.  I know the difference between Austria and Australia.

I plan lessons while shaving, showering, driving, eating, and sleeping.  I plan lessons five minutes before the bell rings.  I know what time it is when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the nine.  I say the r in library.  I do not say the w in sword.

I put on Band-Aids and winter coats and school plays.  I know they will not understand the difference between your and you’re.  I know they will write towhen it should be too.  I say “Cover your mouth,” after they have coughed on me.

I am a teacher.

I examine new braces and new blisters and holes in mouths where teeth have just fallen out.  I can spell vacuum.  I know the magic word.

I wear four-leaf clovers and dandelions in my shirt pocket that have just been picked with love at recess.  I pray for snow days.  I pray for Stephen to be absent.

I spend Thanksgiving vacation writing report cards, Christmas vacation cleaning my classroom, and summer vacation taking classes on how to relax.  I know the difference between a comma and an apostrophe.  I can say “apostrophe.”

I buy books about cats and dogs and sharks and volcanoes and horses and dinosaurs.  I turn jump ropes and am base in tag.  I am glad you can only get chicken pox once.

I correct pencil grips and spelling mistakes and bad manners. I push in chairs all the way, push swings higher, and push sleeves up while children are painting.  I can touch the paper cutter.

I own one suit, two pairs of shoes, and eight boxes of graham crackers.  I have every teacher mug that Hallmark ever made and every Save the Children tie too.  I say, “Use two hands!” when they carry their lunch trays.  I say, “Accidents happen,” after they did not use two hands.

I wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day, red on Valentine’s Day and my bathrobe on Pajama Day.  I poke straws into juice boxes and untwist thermos lids that are too tight.  I unpeel oranges that are too tight too.

I sign library passes and yearbooks and new casts.  I attend soccer games and Little League championships and funerals for guinea pigs.  I answer to both “Mom” and “Dad.”

I am a teacher.

I hope April Fool’s Day is on a Saturday.  I blow up balloons that will not blow up.  I always blow the whistle too early at recess.

I can borrow and carry very fast.  I give them more time to answer six times eight than two times three.  I never end a sentence with a proposition.  I know what a preposition is.

I draw stars and smiley faces.  I say, “Take over,” in four square games when I was not looking.  Once I forgot eight plus seven.

I know when to say “can” and when to say “may.”  I have worn green marker, red paint, yellow chalk dust, glue stick, and glitter all on the same day.  I hate glitter.

I always begin a sentence with a capital and end it with a period.  I always walk in line.  I always lose at arm wrestling.

I leave “shugar” and “vilets” misspelled on their valentines.  I know all my continents and all my oceans.  I tape pages back into books.  I can find the end of the new roll of Scotch tape.  I call on children whose hands are not raised.

I know that colonel is a really hard word to read, and so is doubt and so is gauge.  I know that kids will read started, when it says stared.  I have spelled outbecause and beautiful and friend six million times.

I am a teacher.

I look both ways before crossing the street.  I save balls stuck in basketball hoops.  I have given 842 spelling tests and have written “Have a Good Summer!” that many times too.

I collect milk boxes and coffee cans and egg cartons.  I know all my times tables.  I can type without looking.  I know that two pretzels do not equal one Hershey kiss.

I can make a telescope out of a toilet paper roll and a totem pole out of oatmeal boxes.  I can make snowflakes out of coffee filters and a space shuttle out of a Pringles can too.

I know my notes because “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”  I know my directions because I “Never Eat Slimy Worms.”  I know all my planets because “My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Pickles.”  And I can only say my ABCs if I sing them.

I fix watchbands, repair eyeglasses, and search for lost milk money after freeze tag.  I know when their fists will make a rock and when they will make scissors.

I know when a child does not understand.  I know when a child is not telling the truth.  I know when a child was up too late last night.  I know when a child needs help finding a friend.

I am a teacher.