These accessible poems take you into the classroom where you will find triumph and defeat; spirit and apathy; laughter and tears; pettiness and heroics, sometimes all in the same day.
Russ Fee knows what it’s like to face down a pack of fifth graders. His observations from the wilds of the classroom give us a clear-eyed look at the world of childhood - not the sentimental and sanitized version our memories serve up, but the real world of hard questions, keen observations, and exploding energy. No one is better able to capture the smells, the sounds, the sights, and telling moments that make up a teacher’s day.
A man who arrived in the classroom after a long career in the courtroom, Russ Fee invites us along on his journey from substitute to seasoned teacher, sharing his experiences in poems that capture both the exuberance of childhood and the joyful privilege of being attendant at their growth.
“Kids who don’t get into trouble aren’t normal,” a wise third grader is overheard saying in one of his poems from the classroom included in “A Dash of Expectation.” Whether you’re a parent, teacher or a former child, these poems will make you laugh and cry over honest moments like these.
Pamela Todd, Author
Reach out, and like the
newly molted crayfish in the room’s
aquarium, they scuttle away in their
suddenly too-big bodies, raw
behind claws displayed in attitudes
of threat and challenge.
Some girls are thrilled by this.
A Found Poem
From the Top Ten things learned in 2K
The polls she takes are inconclusive.
the boys voting for a boy and the girls
voting for a girl.
She then resorts to paper fortune tellers,
snapping them open and closed in a mantra
designed to snatch from the ether the secret
of the baby’s sex.
Will it be a new brother?
Will it be a new siter?
The odds prove 50:50.
Thursday she leaves early from school
to be with her mother at the doctor’s.
With science comes certainty.
“We will know tomorrow,”
she tells us.
Friday morning she slinks into class,
tapes a picture to the chalkboard, and
slumps down into her desk.
We all gather round the grainy black and gray photo.
There, like the image in the sweep
of a radar screen are two legs
crossed in perfect modesty.
Don’t Tread on Us
They teach you
in the schools of education to
reach the individual.
You’re armed with Bloom’s Taxonomy and
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to fire
off lesson plans targeting
every single student.
You’re trained to see all classrooms as
multicultural cocoons of individual pupae.
No child is to be left behind.
Now walk through the portal of
a fifth-grade classroom.
Inside are staring, hungry eyes.
Not the trusting orbs of the blind hatchling,
but the narrow focus of the wolf pack.