Archive | September, 2021

Poetry Friday

21 Sep

We have a new schedule that pushes our middle schoolers through eight classes a day on Monday through Wednesday, and nine on Thursdays and Fridays. By Friday afternoon, we are all exhausted, so I am opting for Poetry Fridays, low stakes lessons in which we examine a poem and students write one of their own. I am teaching two different poems , one in 7th and another 8th grade. In 7th grade, we looked at Another New Year by Janet Wong, and I challenged them to write a poem in couplets. In 8th, we were inspired by Roque Dalton’s Como Tu/Like You. With six ELA classes, I wrote six poems. Here’s one from each grade.

Back to School 2021

New schedule
Old room

45 students
Packed inside

Masks on

Backpacks full
Windows open

Door ajar

Familiar faces
New grades

Exhausted, sweaty
Middle School

Like you

Like you I
love walking under a canopy of trees
looking up
at the many shades of green.

And my heart sings
when I notice the first tinge of yellow –
signs of the changing season.

I believe the world is ever-changing,
moving forward,
in perpetual evolution.

And I hope
that this movement –
that I do not always embrace –
does more good than ill.


14 Sep

Forty-five students in two of my six ELA classes, an HVAC system that works intermittently, the myth of 3 feet of social distancing, two new grade levels to teach, and a new nine period schedule: these are not the worries that have me stressed.

What worried me most today were the messages from my car. The low tire pressure light came on yesterday afternoon. A few months ago, the low battery message came on for my key fob. After watching a YouTube video, I was able to change the battery. I usually carried one particular key fob, but after changing the battery I worried, so I started carrying both the main and my spare. But the low battery light came on again.

Before leaving home this morning, I re-watched the video and changed the battery in the spare key fob. As I neared the end of the job a car alarm went off on my street. I went out to see if it was my car, but it had stopped by the time I got there.

On my way to school, armed with a pill bottle full of quarters and wet wipes, I stopped at the nearest gas station to fill my tires. When I got to work, I puttered around in my classroom as I do when I first arrive, opening windows and getting ready for the day. My room overlooks the parking lot and through the open windows, I heard a car alarm again. Could it be mine again, I wondered.

I exited through the nearest door and, of course it had stopped by the time I got there. Another teacher had just arrived and I asked if she’d noticed which card had sounded. She thought she might have touched her door to that of the car beside her when she got out, but couldn’t say for sure which car had sounded. I wondered if I’d accidently touched a button – the one for finding your car in a parking lot – as I had put my school bag and keys in my closet. It remains a mystery.

The low tire pressure light had resolved itself on the drive to school. It will take a few days for me to know about the fob batteries. That light didn’t come on every day. Until I feel confident, I will continue carrying both fobs. And keep my fingers crossed.

Foot Care

7 Sep

It’s hard to explain to non-educators how your feet ache the first week back at school. Despite comfortable shoes with excellent support, my feet throbbed after my first full day of pre-service week.

Maybe it’s because I go barefoot in the house all summer. Maybe it’s because a concrete floor lies under my classroom’ thin carpet. Regardless, my feet were throbbing Monday afternoon when, after walking Richard to the park, I finally took my shoes off.

As I puttered, barefoot, in the kitchen, I thought back to my PHL 100 Into to Philosophy class at the University of Toronto. It was a survey class intended to introduce philosophy neophytes to some of the biggies: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Bentham, Nietzsche. It was taught by two professors, one teaching the Ancients, the other teaching the Moderns.

On the first day of the second half of the class, I sat in the lecture hall like my classmates, awaiting the arrival of the new professor who’s name I no longer remember. What I do remember is her entrance. The entrance was at the back of the hall. As we sat there, a small woman in a black robe descended the stairs towards the lectern on the stage.

The hall was part of Trinity College. U of T is set up like the British College system with small colleges within the larger university. You could take classes at any college, but each had their own traditions and one of Trinity’s was the black gown that students had to wear to dinner. This professor, attached to Trinity, also felt she should wear it to teach.

It wasn’t the gown that got our attention, however. She had a mop of grey hair reminiscent of Albert Einstein and, as there was no handrail, she ran her hand along the wall as she descended the stairs. As intriguing as this was, it was her feet that grabbed my attention. She wore fluffy bedroom slippers.My memory of this professor – who was rather brilliant – sparked an idea. After dinner I packed a pair of Crocs in my school bag.

For the rest of the week, after the morning meetings, teachers had time to work in our classrooms. Each day, when the time arrived to work in my classroom, I removed my shoes and donned my Crocs. My feet hurt less when I got home. Perhaps it was the Crocs, perhaps I was just growing accustomed to being back at work. in any case, I left the Crocs at school, just in case I need them once the teaching starts.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another site


A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in


A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger: Bestselling Author

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

Tundra Book Group

Home of Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, Penguin Teen Canada, and Friends

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

%d bloggers like this: