I'm a guest teacher.

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 16:20 -- Alysia

A guest here –

this isn’t my school

these aren’t my students

and “I would let you work in groups but your teacher said not to.”



Don’t talk.

Don’t laugh.

Don’t leave your seat.

Don’t look at your neighbor.

Don’t put down your pencil until I tell you to stop writing.



You can’t have more time.

You can’t check your cellphone.

You can’t go to bathroom because you used your hall pass last week.


Sit back down.

Stop talking.

Get to work.


There’s a girl in the 2nd grade

Who sits on the very front row

She spends math time

“reading because she doesn’t do math with us.”


In the hall during language arts

She learns “her level” of math

And strangely

Her writing skills are suffering too



She can’t learn anything.

She’s not smart.


The students walk in looking tired

Unenthused and nonchalant

They sit down and put in their headphones

And count the seconds ‘til the bell


The only thing worse

Than losing their phones

Is getting their calculators taken away




We can’t do it on paper.

We never learned how.


And that’s just the 8th grade


I see students scolded

for using their own brains

if you don’t conform

you will receive a failing grade


What are grades anyway?

The instructions you obey?

How closely you follow somebody else’s ideas?

Instead of thinking up your own?


We teach students to listen

To obey and do what we say

To use the formula and follow the rules

But never how to figure it out themselves


Then we blame their parents

For not teaching them to blend in

For allowing them to express themselves at home

Because “that’s not how we behave at school”



You can’t be you at school

You’re here to learn

how to be just like everyone else


But it’s not my responsibility

these aren’t my students

this isn’t my school



I can’t fix anything

What could I change?


None if this is my fault

I’m here for the day

Then I walk away


So if it’s not my responsibility

and it’s not your responsibility

Whose is it?

This poem is about: 
My community
My country



Wow...as a student, this poem truly speaks to me. It's very cool to read about something that you think you know so well from a different perspective.

Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741