Has a student called you “Mom” yet?
Did any ask whether you were married?
Were you aware that you were assigned the role of weight room supervisor, and are you pleased that a desk was placed next to the bench press so that you could do your grading?
Did you know you had a pink Post-it note attached to your butt all day that said: HAN SHOT FIRST?
When you asked students to pick an emoji for how they were feeling about poetry, and they all chose the same yellow face with x’s for eyes, and you said, “Great! Everyone responded in exactly the same way—that’s what poetry is about!” did anyone crack a smile or did all twenty-six of them look at you like you’d just run over their dog?
Did you take the student’s phone before or after you finished your thought?
Did a parent write to ask why you assigned a gay poet?
When the head of security handed you a lanyard meant to distinguish all community members from an intruder, did you feel confident that this plan would work among teenagers who break the dress code daily?
Were you comforted when he added that school shootings are actually quite rare in the grand scheme of things—even in America?
Does the photo ID attached to the lanyard make you look like you stuck your finger in an electric socket?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how surprised are you that your contract no longer includes dental insurance?
Were you just rewarded for fifteen years of service with a keychain?
Have you heard about the 300,000 teacher shortage? That’s gonna taper off soon, right?
When a student quoted a line today about only noticing the shadows on a bright day, did you mention that fifteen years ago, in the most painful breakup of your life, snow was dripping down the storm drains, and crocuses were pushing through the sidewalk cracks, but all you could think was “Fuck you, spring”? Or did you just say calmly, “Yes, our internal worlds are powerful, aren’t they?”
Did that quiet student in the back of class compose a poem that took your breath away?
Did you already forget your lanyard?