Funny how one thing can lead to another. The other day, while taking lunch, I was talking to a group of students seated nearby my desk who were working on a term paper entitled, “The changing lives of Teachers.” ‘Write us a forward,” Joked Ben.

So I obliged…

Kathryn, Maggie Aileen and Ben sat and slaved—
I believe they also did plot and scheme.
The result was this fine piece of work
built around one singular theme.

And the topic of how teachers’ lives are changed
by the jobs to which they aspire
became a paper, built line by line
as their faces, they did perspire.

And, to my surprise, I must assert
that this semi-tome is quite fit to read
and assure you as you prepare for what’s ahead
their word-count they did not exceed.

And there’s no errors in grammar or in spelling
no gaffes like that escaped their careful screening
now, as for the content, I’ll say but nought
for I didn’t take the time to grasp its meaning.

But I know one thing to be perfectly true
and for data I have thirty-two years as a teacher:
you may start your career filled with arrogant spunk
but you’ll be transformed to a much humbler creature.


But then I overheard Chris, who was also seated at that same table, mutter sadly to himself, “what about me? I’m not part of that group.”



The title of the paper was, “Teacher Negligence”

I did a foreword for Ben and the Guys
which made poor Chris go and fuss and sook.
“Well Ben asked,” I said, in my own defence.
But all that I got back was a sad, sorry look.

And so, with a heavy sigh I turned back to my screen
thinking, “what can I say to introduce poor Chris’ piece?”
After all he’s bitten off a chunk of work
hard enough tie up all the ancients in Greece.

But still, in truth, I must admit
that, he’s nothing if not extremely brave
the whole topic of negligence
would send most sane students back to the cave.

And liability—well in fair to all it should be said
that it’s been the causal agent for so many things
like sounded corners, soft edges and constant vigilance
there’s no end to the bother defending against it brings.

And, so perhaps the best that I can do is this:
tell Chris I wish him well and to him remind
that there’s but two weeks left in this here term
so for God’s sake don’t do more than you’re assigned.


Marc, who was working away just to my right, was looking on with interest and shaking his head so I thought, “why leave him out?”

Why indeed? 

The title of the paper was, “The Issues Faced by Beginning Teachers.”

The Issues faced by teachers starting out
are never hard to find—
Things like getting work from feral kids
could make you lose your mind.

And coupled with the simple fact
that Marc’s a busy guy
with lots more papers and other stuff due
it’s a wonder it hasn’t all gone awry.

But, to his credit, he’s done a right fine job
of teasing out the main stressors
and has avoided mentioning most of the strife
is instigated by his professors.


I got distracted (by work–hey lunch is only so long) before finishing this piece and so it was not until the following day that I handed Marc his copy. Andrew, who was seated in the booth behind me asked, “What’s that?” I figured that was enough for him to rate his own.

The paper title was “The changing Role of School Discipline in Canada.”

It has been wisely stated by those who know more than do I
that everything changes except change itself;
and nowhere is it more true, than with school discipline
in fact, books on it, from times past, are best left on the shelf.

Perhaps there was once a time when our young were seen
as things wild and feral, creatures to be tamed
so being strict, and enforcing harsh discipline—
the strap and such were things of which we were not ashamed.

But now we live in times best marked by acceptance of
the diversity that exists between us all
and, besides, we have vivid memories of
lessons learned from times when we let our standards fall.

So we find ourselves in the midst of a time
when even our national identity is a thing we do not “get”
and, as such, our schools will continue to struggle on…
THAT journey’s far from over yet.


I did this one over lunch and handed it to Andrew, who was back in the booth. He chuckled and read it.

Jamie, who was seated next to him said, “do one for me, Maurice!” How could I say no?

The paper title is, “The Changing Lifestyles of Teachers”

When asked to introduce topic of teacher lifestyle
my first sarcastic thought was, “what life?”
For, thinking of the long hours and expectations
I could only envision a lot of stress and strife.

After all, the teacher, as a public figure
gives up much that should be under their control,
their every action under scrutiny,
existing in the proverbial fish bowl.

And as such, at least at first blush it seemed
that every waking moment could be consumed
simply tending to the affairs associated with the job
but then I wondered, “is that as true as I’d assumed?”

After all a teacher’s life is the one I have too
and upon reflection, it’s been not too bad at all
sure, at times it can seem tough, even constricted
but it’s rewarding and good when viewed over the long haul.

No, teaching’s not for you if you aspire for the lifestyle of the rich.
You can’t afford the trappings, all the “stuff”
but you still are afforded dignity and respect,
and while you won’t be rich, you’ll have enough.

And best of all, a teachers’ life is filled
with the joys that come from doing work that’s real—
growing lives –bodies, minds and hearts—
gives the teacher’s lifestyle a unique and special appeal.

And, of course, you know these were all done just for fun. Jerome, the course instructor, who also happens to be an oooolllldddd friend, will only get a laugh.


9 thoughts on “Forward!

  1. Mary Duffy

    Enjoyed this series – I’ll bet your students did also. Brought me back to the days of writing papers – I actually strangely enjoyed it – (except for the deadlines:)
    I like this last one the best as it shows your real vocation for your profession – I know teachers are not just to be found in traditional classrooms but in places like learning commons and so many other places – I am in awe of the educators that I work – with both those who have worked the same number of years and more! as I have as well as the new educators in the field who often introduce me to “the latest” innovations. Sounds like you work with a great group!

  2. I enjoyed this, Maurice!! It is a pleasure to see when somebody obviously enjoys his job and is so contented and has so much fun every day.

    You could apply your skills to a side-business: “Poetry on anything! Fast delivery!” No, really, I believe there would be market as so often somebody has to give a little speech at an anniversary, family re-union, or company meeting and does not know what to say!

    1. Thanks, Elke 🙂 Overall, though, I do poetry for the same reason as you do–the fun we get to have when meeting a little challenge. In my case, here were the rules: 1-on topic, 2-done within the time I had remaining during lunch break and 3-had to make the recipient and the course instructor smile. As for making money with it, though it’s a distinctly intriguing possibility I figure it would take away the bit of fun I get from doing the free stuff.
      On an unrelated note, I was so glad, at 12:01 this morning to bid farewell to July. July 2014 was the hottest one we had on record and, as it turns out, July 2015 has been the coldest, and possibly the wettest. Ugh! Ship me over a little of the sun you’ve been getting will you? Oh, wait, your PV system is already putting your excess to good use 🙂

  3. What a nice poetic “review” of the papers! I’m sure the subjects enjoyed…and got a smile or two. It’s obvious you love your job, and are a great poet on the top. 🙂

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