An Open Letter to Another English Teacher

I read your letter, and I’m not impressed.

I didn’t think, “Oh, what a caring man.

It’s obvious he loves his students.” No.

What’s obvious to me is that you try.

You try to help your students; that you try

to comfort them, to understand the crap

they’re living with. You try and try and try,

and that’s the problem. All you do is try.

Do you remember Yoda? What he said?

There is no trying. You succeed or fail.

Don’t tell me how you’ve tried to help your kids.

Did you succeed? And more importantly

did they succeed? And how did they succeed?

I taught for thirty years. For thirty years

I heard the same excuses and complaints.

“Of course the kids are failures. You’d be too

if you were forced to live the life they live.

You simply do not understand their lives

and what they have to go through every day.”

And then they give the laundry list that proves

their students will be failures all their lives

despite how much they care, how much they try.

At least you didn’t tell me how you try

to get your students to enjoy the time

they spend in school because that’s telling me

you don’t expect your students to succeed,

instead that you expect your students will

be failures, nothing till the day they die.

I read your letter, and I’m not impressed.

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