A Single English Teacher’s Lament



A Single English Teacher’s Lament

Two periods of composition
have put me in a bad position.
With class size swelled to 38,
no longer have I time to date,
for teaching all to write a thesis
means my workload never ceases.

Each weekend I take home a pile
to check and grade and reconcile.
To try to sort them out is hard—
each sentence shuffled card by card.
Each comment must be made with tact,
their logic looked at fact by fact.

Each student had to write just one.
Now handed in, their toils are done.
While I have 76 to grade,
and now regret assignments made.
How many more? I have to ask,
imprisoned by this grading task.

I thought when I earned my degree,
that I had finally been set free,
but now I am the guilty one
destroying all my students’ fun.
Yet I’ve  created my own repentance.
I gave myself the thesis sentence!


This is a rewrite of a piece written over three years ago, when I first started this blog.  My friend Ann Garcia, a former fellow teacher and friend for life (although we haven’t seen each other for almost thirty years) gave me the prompt to write a poem about an English teacher.  Well, here it is with a stanza added to allow it to meet today’s prompt of  degree as well. Pretty tricky, huh?

22 thoughts on “A Single English Teacher’s Lament

  1. smkelly8

    Oh, have you been spying on me? Your paper nails the dangers of teaching. It’s a job where your work is never done. That’s why summer vacation is a necessity. Over the winter holidays, teachers, the good ones, will be working as well as celebrating. There’s joy in the job, but it’s hard to keep it from spilling into all one’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I loved teaching but since I really wanted to write, I eventually quit and have spent the past 36 years grading my own papers (the ones I write, that is.) Thanks for your comment, smkelly8! Hope you continue to love teaching. You have my admiration and respect.


  2. Pingback: Poem of the Week | Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition

  3. Michael Summers

    Brilliant capture of the single teacher’s life. I was in your shoes twelve years ago with custody of two sons, both of whom were high school seniors. I taught World History as well as sophomore and senior English. Long nights of grading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Are you still teaching? I actually quit after 10 years even though I loved it. I had a dream that convinced me I was living vicariously since I had always wanted to write.. so I quit my job, sold my house, moved to CA and have been writing ever since.



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