Twenty Nine Years After

Twenty-nine years ago the Loma Prieta earthquake happened at 5:04 and changed my life forever after. The Loma Prieta earthquake and the fifteen seconds I spent cowering under a big oak desk while the ceiling came down in the hundred year old building I was working in changed how I viewed every other second that came after. The Loma Prieta earthquake and the two kind people (one who was someone’s love, one who was someone’s dad) who died on the other side of the wall during those fifteen seconds changed the way I treated every other person I met after….

I Fear For My Safety

The police who cornered Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard and shot him down say they “feared for their safety.” They thought he had a gun. He had a cell phone. I was at the protest the other day in Sacramento. We circled the park across City Hall. We marched through the streets, climbed onto the freeway and blocked traffic, stormed the arena where we blocked the entrance for people coming to the Kings game. Stephon Clark was a student at Sac High when I taught there. I knew him. Does that matter? I wonder. I wonder about what matters…

Kids These Days Feel Entitled

High school teacher here, if you didn’t already know. So I know what I’m talking about when I say kids these days feel entitled. They feel entitled in ways those of us coming up in the seventies, eighties, and nineties did not. Kids these days feel soooooooooo entitled. I didn’t feel as entitled as they do when I was their age. My generation rolled with the punches and didn’t make waves. We worked hard and hoped for the best. This bent towards working hard and making do is a hallmark of so-called Generation X. We’re proud of it. Kids these…

I’m giving up giving advice for Lent

I’m giving up giving advice for Lent starting now, I announced to my class yesterday. I’m also giving up sharing my opinions, especially at work but also in general. My students were appalled. How are you going to not share your opinions? How are you going to not give advice? That’s basically your whole job, Mrs. Wanket. Giving us advice. Telling us your opinions. You’ve just proven to me that I am correct in my chosen Lenten sacrifice, I said. One girl protested. What if someone asks for your advice? Even more reason to keep my mouth shut. Okay, but…

The Long Ride Home

Maybe it is because I’m a high school teacher and spend my days surrounded by actual young adults that my standards for YA literature are so high. My favorite books for readers in their teens are full of characters facing real life problems with no clear solutions. The dialogue needs to sound like something an actual kid would say, or else I’m gone. No messages, please. No lessons to learn that could also be imparted in a thirty minute sitcom. No morals to the story allowed. Ever. If I’m going to recommend a book to anyone to read it has…

What Do I Say To My Students?

A teacher friend just asked me how I plan to talk to my students about Charlottesville on the first day of school. The country is on fire. White supremacy has taken over the White House. People are dying in the streets. What am I going to say? I do have a plan about what I’m going to say to the students in my English classes on Wednesday about the political turmoil in this country. It’s the same plan I had at the end of the summer of 2016 in light of the murder of Philando Castile and the police officers…

To My White Sisters Amongst the 48%

We feel good about yesterday. We woke up this morning feeling better than we have since before the election. We exerted ourselves and we marched in solidarity with millions of others around the globe. We thought we were alone in a dystopian fascist world, but now we know we aren’t. We feel better. More comfortable. The march was so diverse, we are saying to one another. There weren’t just white people there. And wasn’t it nice that the cops were so supportive and smiley? No arrests. No violence. I’m only talking about myself, but there is a reason we don’t…

Whose Jersey I Was Wearing

A couple of days ago, a line of Varsity football players barreled into my classroom. I’ve been known to offer encouraging journal writing times before big game days. Friday was a huge game day. The league championship was at stake against a higher ranked team. I thought they might have been there to ask to write with me. They weren’t there to write. They were uncharacteristically quiet, this group of boys. Shuffling their enormous feet. Smiling funny. “Guess what,” one of the guys finally said. “We get to pick one teacher to be with us on the field for Friday’s game…

Were You Scared?

A few days ago, a beloved former student of mine (a black man) from the charter school where I used to teach tagged me on Facebook with the following meme:(It’s probably good to note here that I’m one of those teachers that is better in retrospect than I am in the present moment. I’m kind of like childbirth that way. When my class is over, you’re glad you went through it and tend to forget the pain.) Perhaps it is this amnesia effect that caused my beloved former student to forget that I ruin jokes. And I ruined this one big time….

Guest Post: A Moroccan Summer

In response to one of my posts earlier this month about my health and fitness, my former student Anna reached out to share her recent experience as an exchange student in Morocco. I was fascinated to read her story about the lack of freedom she experienced in day-to-day life as a woman in another country. I invited her to write a guest post to share her story with you. A Moroccan Summer For two months of summer 2016, I lived in Morocco. I was granted the opportunity to study abroad through the organization Project GO, a DOD scholarship program for ROTC…