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So, You Want To Be A Teacher, Eh?
So, You Want To Be A Teacher, Eh?
We continue to add to our podcast collection for teachers. Here is a poem that might speak to many teachers. Get the free downloads.

I’ve been giving teachers advice for what it seems forever. Now entering the twilight years of my career. 30 years in. Still though, I feel a vigor and a belief in the right way … a need to give some advice. There is so much work to be done in education — to challenge the structures in place and re-invent education for students and teachers alike.

So, I’m offering up this poem. This poem, I wrote one stormy night and it encapsulates my thought that teaching is more vocation and a calling than a just a job and a paycheck. It has to be something that is in your bones. It is a service to others. This is not to belittle our rights as teachers doing a job but I think we need both - this calling to care, to be of service and a calling to care about our pay, our needs and rights on the job, as said caregivers.

So, here we go. A blast of thought from me, in a poem. Get my pdf book full of poems about teaching and learning HERE. Download this poem as a PDF to share, HERE. And too - check out all our poetry related resources in our Lesson Library - this new one is stellar! Or this prior post, with more about teaching poetry.


So, you want to be a teacher, eh?

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
In spite of everything
Don’t do it.

Unless it comes unasked
Out of your heart
Out of your mind
Out of your gut
Don’t do it.

If you have to sit for hours
Staring at your computer screen
Or hunched over your tablet
Looking for a lesson plan
Don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money
Or fame, or someone else
Don’t do it.

If you’re doing it to meet
The woman of your dreams
Or the man of your lonely heart
Don’t do it.

If you have to sit there
Worrying about tomorrow’s lesson
Over and over.
Don’t do it.
If it’s hard work just thinking
About doing it
Don’t do it.

If you’re trying to teach like somebody else
Forget about it.
If all you got is a worksheet and commands
Run away.

If you have to wait for the lesson
To roar out of you
Then wait patiently.
If it never does roar out of you
Do something else.

If you first have to read about it,
Or learn about it, study it, figure it out
Don’t do it.
If you first have to check
With your colleagues or girlfriend
Or with your principal
Or with anybody at all,
You’re not ready.

Don’t be like so many teachers.
Don’t be like so many 1,000s of people
Who call themselves teachers
Who the government deems teachers.
Don’t be dull, and boring, and pretentious.
Don’t be consumed with self-love
The classrooms of the world have
Yawned themselves to sleep over your kind.
Don’t add to that.
Don’t do it.

Unless the lesson comes out of your soul
Like a rocket
Unless not being a teacher
Would drive you to madness
To suicide, to murder.
Don’t do it.

Unless the ideas inside you
Are burning your gut.
Unless you get up always thinking
Of the possibilities possible
In your class
Don’t do it.

When it is truly time
And if you have been chosen
Teaching will do it by itself
It will keep on doing it
Until you die
Or it dies in you.
There is no other way
And there never was.

Don’t try.
It’s the trying that gets in the way.
Start. Teach.
Do it.

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ELT Buzz Outloud

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