Every month Ethical ELA offers a 5-day “Open Write” for teachers. Various teachers and writers “host” and share one way to write poetry. I often lurk there, but have only written a few times. Today Mo Daley & Tracie McCormick shared the monotetra, a form developed by Michael Walker. When they challenged us to write from headlines and ideas in the news, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.
Last night, I lost sleep after reading an article that said “The Ont Ministry of Ed says teachers who stand at the front of the class, keeping two metres away from their students, don’t need PPE.” I kept tossing and turning, trying to figure out how in the world I’m supposed to teach effectively while remaining two metres away from my students. And yes, I know I teach high school, but, no, I don’t stand in front of them and lecture. I literally woke up at 2 in the morning thinking that maybe I could conference from behind a plexiglass screen.
So this morning when I saw the prompt, well, my sleepless night spilled into daytime cynicism. At first, I was horrified that my poem was so DARK. Then I thought, heck, it’s playfully dark – right? At any rate, now I have a great poem to show my students where the speaker of the poem and the author of the poem are not necessarily one and the same. Plus, I can teach them the monotetra and possibly link that to our media studies… but only if I bring my own PPE.
Behind Closed Doors: The Ministry of Education talks about teachers during COVID19
Teachers are a dime a dozen.
They get sick, we bring some more in.
There’s no reason for their dudgeon.
Bring some more in; bring some more in.
Who says they need those PPEs
to keep them safe from this disease?
No teacher gets those guarantees.
They’re employees; they’re employees.
And while we meet safely online,
we’ll tell the teachers they’re “front line”,
that classroom teaching is designed
to help mankind, to help mankind.
Tell them that, though school is scary,
online classes were temporary.
Now we know teachers are very…um
necessary (yes!), necessary.
PPEs are too expensive.
Teachers mustn’t be apprehensive:
If we provide them no defences,
It’s inoffensive; it’s inoffensive.
The parents must return to work
So we’ll explain that teachers shirk
And PPEs are simply perks
Get back to work! Get back to work!
Convince the parents they’ve been had.
Remind them that the Spring was bad.
You were not scared, you moms and dads.
Not scared, but mad; not scared, but mad.
Workers need to be productive.
Children need to be instructed.
Our plan is purely reconstructive
Don’t obstruct it; don’t obstruct it.
Th’economy must be maintained
We knew those teachers would complain.
Did they expect us to explain?
Their loss; our gain. Their loss; our gain.
And if a few good teachers die?
We’ll sigh on screen, we’ll dab our eye,
Then we will find a new supply.
And who will cry? And who will cry?