Friday, February 23, 2018

The #1 Best Thing About Teaching

Howdy Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! (links to PF, to my poem, and to my autographed Passover book are below)

Shhh!  Come sneak into the TeachingAuthors' Teacher's Lounge and eavesdrop as we consider what we like most about being teachers.

Carmela started us out with Two Things I Love About Teaching Writing, Esther continues our theme with the many ways she connects with her students and the resources she connects her students to, and today I'm up to bat.
First, may I say that this is a somber (and an important) time to think about teachers. And students. And about how much we as a people value them. I had originally planned to post a funny poem about revision and how scary it can be, but the images were inappropriate at this time in our country.
Okay. Here's what I like about teaching:.

I like to perform.

But I particularly like when I am most authentic, when I forget myself, when my light reaches theirs.

drawing © 2018 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

by April Halprin Wayland

At the end of class she says,

"Write something you want,

something about yourself you want to change,

or something you worry about."

Heads down, pens flying, we write.

I use my purple ink pen.

Then we all look up at her,


"Now," she says,

standing by the windows in shiny black heels,

"rip it into a thousand pieces and throw it away."

Someone gasps.

"Don't share

what you wrote

with anyone."

Our eyes widen.

"That's right: this idea is yours.

To think about. To live.

Not to post on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.

Not to tell a soul."

We ceremonially


our revelations

to bits.

We file

out of class

in silence;

in shock.

I can't tell you what I wrote. I won't.

But I can say that it's

written in purple ink

inside me.

poem © 2018 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Here's what I wrote to fellow TeachingAuthor Esther Hershenhorn one night:

Just home from teaching. I was really dreading tonight's class... Revision is a hard topic to get through--how much work it takes to revise and rewrite. But it turned out to be a gloriously wonderful class... So I guess I'm a teacher after all.
It may have been the best class I've taught in years.  Funny how that happens.

And that's what I like about teaching: the intangible, gloriously wonderful, unpredictableness of it all.

Thank you for hosting PF today, Liz at

And one more thing...Passover is March 30-April 7th this year, so...

...if you're looking for AUTOGRAPHED copies of my picture book, More Than Enough ~ A Passover Story (Reviewed in the New York Times!) call the fabulous folks at my local independent bookstore, {pages} a bookstore, 310-318-0900 to pre-pay (+tax & shipping) and specify who it’s for. Gift wrapping available on request.

Or buy at it your local independent book store!

(If there are no indies near you, that’s another story. Then by all means buy it here.)

posted with hope for teachers and students everywhere by April Halprin Wayland with help from Dropsy, a particularly contemplative goldfish in our pond.


Molly Hogan said...

I think I held my breath when I read, "rip it into a thousand pieces and throw it away." What a glorious poem--uplifting and empowering and anchored by details like those shiny black heels and purple ink pen.

Liz Steinglass said...

Oh, yes, I caught my breath too, but it's good to be reminded that we can write just for ourselves and I love that it's still inside you in purple ink.

Linda B said...

It is good to know with a lesson like this that we write only for ourselves, and then, sometimes, there is one we want to share. I'd love to see you teach this lesson, April!

jama said...

Thanks for being the glorious teacher you are April. Love your poem.

Kay said...

I love this poem--and for the reminders of the all the things I loved about teaching and that I now miss. It is gloriously unpredictable!

CS Perryess said...

I agree that you've offered us a breath-stopping poem. Thank you. And I agree, the freeflow & unexpected blips of teaching can be downright magical. I'll never forget a moment from 10-11 years ago. I pushed Carol Plum-Ucci's brilliant book *What Happened to Lani Garver" on my unsuspecting 8th graders. Candace took it home that night, read all 400+ pages, & showed up in my room the next morning clutching the book to her breast. Breathless, she said, "This book changed the way I see the world."

Wow. I don't think non-teachers are able to understand what a gobstopping honor it is to teach.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hi, April. Yes, I've spent the week considering how ill most of the world understands what it is to be a teacher, and how there is no other job (in the case of classroom teachers of young children, especially) in which the success of the work depends on the establishment of long-term relationships. We carry our students with us wherever we go, and we put our hearts between them and various dangers every single day--and sometimes our bodies too.

I've caused shock and breathlessness too, and my favorite moments of teaching come when I have helped lightbulbs to pop on above kids' heads. You can HEAR the tingle, the tickle, the shine!

Bobbi Miller said...

Inspirational!!! Thank you for this!

Mrs. Wyman said...

Love the idea of our light hitting theirs. Now where's my purple pen? -- Christie @

Mary Ann Rodman said...

Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something. Earlier in the week a dear, non-writer friend told me to write my dreams--then tear it up. I've read two posts in the last 12 hours about writing from the heart...and not sharing, being fearless. This poem, just stabbed me in the heart (and conscience). Thank you, April. You speak the truth.

Ruth said...

You're right - it is so unpredictable! Great post.

Carmela Martino said...

Love this post, April, and especially your poem. And, I, too, have experienced that unpredictability. Hooray for you!

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

I concur. That rip it up moment written in purple ink, so meaningful. Congrats on the book! Woo-hoo!

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

I concur. That rip it up moment written in purple ink, so meaningful. Congrats on the book! Woo-hoo!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Sorry so late to leave a comment on this post, April, but I wanted to let you know that this Friday (3/9), I will be hosting PF and will be including a list of simple, practical tips from experienced teachers and poet-teachers about how to successfully engage, inspire, and otherwise connect students with poetry in fun and meaningful ways. If you or any of the other Teaching Authors would like to send me a brief tip (by Wednesday), it would be most welcome. Please don't reply here, but email me at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!