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June 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Classroom Poems


They work in pairs

I listen silently

Make notes

Some think I’m lazy

Not working

Leaving them alone

Not correcting

Abandoned to their fate

Of making mistakes

Not conjugating

Forgetting auxiliaries

Not inverting in questions

Some look at me for words

Eyes pleading

Come on

Tell me

Help me

I don’t know the right word

You do

Others stop talking

They realise I’m listening

Can I ever get it right

Find a balance

Between what they think they need

And what I think they need?



The bright freezing colours of spring

Glancing off a roof

Trees still leafless

Stillness of an afternoon writing class

With small distracting noises

A distant bark

Five more minutes

A timed essay

Two more minutes

Get set, go

Who has decided I should do this?

It is not my choice

To do things this way

But still

As teacher

I have the power to worry them

Even while not actively seeking it

Their mindset supports the schema

That puts me here

In front of them



Screech of metal-legged desks

Dragged across the floor

Is this the non-threatening environment

Conductive to work

Words like concentration and disruption

Come to mind


But out of doors

Birds chirp

And birches sprout

Delicate miniatures of leaves

In palest of greens

Fluttering branchless

Levitating and dancing

Butterflies are less ephemeral

These will be other leaves tomorrow.


A Reading Class

They read silently

But to some

Silently is murmuring,

Laboriously deciphering

Alien words,

Chewing them over.

Concentration is bliss.

The door opens, shuts noisily.

“Hello, I’m sorry.”

The magic is broken.

Interruption is hell, not hello.


Mixed Ability Class

Some bored because unchallenged

Others irretrievably lost

Unless I stop yet one more time

To explain what I’d thought trivial, obvious

I discover

That what is obvious to me, and to most people,

Requires a first-time every time

Conscious mental process

In my teacher-dependent students.

Distinctions and dichotomies

I hate them whilst I love them.

They cling to me while I

Am into fostering learner independence.

And though I do, I think

‘Who am I to force them

To do what they don’t want to do?’

I’m walking an ethical tightrope

Between unethically insisting on

Something they don’t yet want

And not doing what I believe is good.



They’re weird things, dictionaries.

Friends sometimes,

Another world to get lost in

When I’d rather not be in class

But free-associating

Between examples on the phonetic chart,

Aircraft, illustrations of trees,

Jupiter, and the man I love.

Smiling at a memory brought back

Seemingly from nowhere

Triggering off daydreams.


Dictionaries (vs. Plans)

Some don’t need them much

Others can’t do much without them

Slavishly look up every other word,

Then never get to do the task

As I had planned last night.

It’s absolutely true

That they will learn

Not what you plan

But what they will

When the time’s right.

You can provoke them

Move them, shake them

Pull the ground from under their feet

And still

They might not get it, quite.



Tired exam class

Traffic noise from window

Sunny summer morning

Silent reading practice

Pages crisply turning

Heads bent down on books

Chewing gum

Making notes

Asking partners

Holding heads

Chinese whispers

Thai mumblings


Motivation flagging...

I don’t see the point of

Doing so much testing

Tagged  Poems