#379: Poem on April 5, 2021

So 8 p.m. rolls around and I’m suddenly apoplectic: I haven’t written a poem! My god, I haven’t written a poem! Fortunately, no one witnesses this tizzy. My wife and son are at rehearsal. I’m home alone. Only the dogs see the tantrum. I feverishly check the Napowrimo site. Nope. I’m not doing that. Expediency is the operative word tonight. Oh, happy day, short-term memory kicks back in and I realize that yesterday, after I had written volume 2 of the vaccination poem, I had a leisurely Sunday afternoon to get started on something new–something that I had saved as a draft even. All is not lost.

Today’s poem was inspired by a former student of mine, who is now an English teacher in my district, a human being that I am super proud of, but who posted a joke on Facebook the other day somewhat at my expense. That deserves a poem:

Poem on April 5

A former student of mine
who is now a friend on Facebook,
posts a question in which I am tagged:
Is Jarmer still ghosting students
in the comment section of the report card?

Apparently, John, (we will call
him “John”) is sore, some twenty plus years
later, feels slighted because, despite the ‘A’
and no tardiness or absences in my class,
I select not one comment about him
for his report card, not even #8:
a pleasure to have in class.

I’m sure he thought it would be a
fun little post and that I’d be a good
sport about it–and it was, and I am.,
especially because in the end
he compliments me, is probably not
really at all butt-hurt by my neglect.
However, I feel somewhat called out,
because, yes, I’m still ghosting students
in the comment section of their report cards.
He is correct, this “John.”

I would like to go on record
as saying that John was a pleasure
to have in class. And most every single
one of those students earning A’s
were a pleasure, even if I never said so,
never filled in the bubble for #8, or now,
selected it from a drop-down menu.
#8 has always been #8.

And it’s not that only ‘A’ students
are a pleasure to have in class.
I am pleased to have any kid in class
so long as they can be nice, and
most kids know how to do this.
So then you end up saying that
everyone is a pleasure to have
in class and you might as well say
nothing at all.

And ultimately, students know,
don’t they, if they are a pleasure
or a pain, and nobody needs to tell
them that. Even their parents, especially
their parents, already know. So the only
comments I give are the ones that explain
the low grade or the failing grade
because this might be useful information.
#52: Assignments are missing.
#47: Absences have effected work/grade.
#57: Student does not complete assignments.
Nevertheless, they were all a pleasure to have in class.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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