Posted in Poetry, Teaching

Underneath

I spent the weekend grading my students’ journals, and it made me want to post this poem, which was published in Encore: Prize Poems of the NFSPS in 2015.

Underneath

I straightened the mirror a couple of times,
     so I have OCD,
then got distracted by a dog,
     so you added ADD.
I washed my hands after your high-five,
     so I’m a hypochondriac,
and when I frowned in the crowded mall,
     you said, “Don’t have a panic attack.”
I didn’t cry in Titanic or Bambi,
     so you think I’m a freak,
but I’ve seen Star Wars a hundred times,
     so I must be a geek.
I got 2300 on my SAT,
     so now I’m also a nerd.
Then I tensed when you gave me a hug,
     so you say I have Asperger’s.
It’s hard to live with so many labels—
     you have a name for each of my moods.
Despite how much you think you know,
     there’s something you forget to include.
While you catalogue each sign and symptom,
     trying out every disease,
underneath those acronyms,
     is a person, and that person is me.

© Carie Juettner

Posted in Teaching

Adventures In Subbing, Part 4: The End

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Every year when I was teaching seventh grade, our school administrators gave us some sort of inspirational poster or story or memento to keep in our classroom for encouragement throughout the year. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it backfired. I remember distinctly the year the nugget of inspiration came in the form of a very short story about a woman who woke up and only had three hairs on her head. She braided the three hairs and was happy. The next day she woke up and only had two hairs on her head. She parted them in the middle and was happy. The next day she woke up and only had one hair on her head. She wore it in a ponytail and was happy. The next day she woke up and had no hair left on her head. She said to herself, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!” And she was happy.

I’m pretty sure the point of the fable was to find the silver lining in everything and stay positive, but as the year wore on, I decided what it really meant was that teaching makes your hair fall out.

I share this memory as an explanation for why I subbed so much in May. Despite working more hours than usual at my library clerk job, completing a freelance project, and keeping up with my own writing, I still made time to substitute teach eight times at seven different middle schools. Why? Because I know what May is like for teachers. At this time of year, they’re lucky if they have any hair left at all and they need a break. I know that all of those half days, sick days, personal days, and I-just-can’t-today days are well-deserved. I’m happy to step in and help.

The end of my year of subbing was just as interesting as the beginning. I watched Inside Out three times, The Lost World twice, and Scared Shrekless once. (That one was awesome.) One day I arrived to my classroom to find a bag of raw chicken on my desk. (It turned out there was a reasonable explanation for it that had nothing to do with Satanic rituals or mean pranks.) One day when some seventh grade science students playing a card game suddenly erupted into loud yells, I went over to investigate, only to have a boy calmly explain, “Sorry. I got AIDS.” (The card game was called “Defend Yourself” and was from their unit on the immune system.) And during the last half hour of my very last sub job, an eighth grade girl asked me, “Can I go ride my unicycle in the courtyard for Ms. Smith?”

Sometimes I think I’ve been asked everything in my teaching career, but that was a new one.

I think the best way to demonstrate what subbing at the end of the school year looks like and close out my Adventures in Subbing series is with a photo documentary. Here is a look back at my last six weeks of subbing, in pictures.

 

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Creepy mural on the wall of an art classroom

 

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Semi-creepy box-creature in a social skills classroom

 

Sometimes subbing looks like this... during STAAR testing, I spent four hours monitoring the boys' bathroom (one boy at a time, no talking in line). I was able to read an entire issue of Writer's Digest during my shift. It was awesome.
Sometimes subbing looks like this… during STAAR testing, I spent four hours monitoring the boys’ bathroom (one boy at a time, no talking in line). I was able to read an entire issue of Writer’s Digest during my shift. It was awesome.

 

Scare tactics-- cheesy when I was a kid, still cheesy today.
Scare tactics– cheesy when I was a kid, still cheesy today.

 

One school where I worked had goats and sunflowers. :) I like that school.
One school where I worked had goats and sunflowers. 🙂 I like that school.

 

Angry note taped to the door of the faculty restroom. The person who wrote this has zero hairs left.
Angry note taped to the door of the faculty restroom. The person who wrote this has zero hairs left.

 

I subbed in the classroom with this friendly creature on May the 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Two teachers at the school were in Star Wars cosplay. Later, in my class, a group of boys gave their science activity a Star Wars theme. I asked them if they’d seen the teachers in costume. One boy said, “Yeah, I was psyched that I knew Ms. X was a Twi’lek.” Another boy said, “Yeah, but Ms. Y was dressed as Obi-Wan, but she had a Kylo Ren light saber and that pissed me off.” There’s just no pleasing seventh grade geeks.
I subbed in the classroom with this friendly creature on May the 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Two teachers at the school were in Star Wars cosplay. Later, in my class, a group of boys gave their science activity a Star Wars theme. I asked them if they’d seen the teachers in costume. One boy said, “Yeah, I was psyched that I knew Ms. X was a Twi’lek.” Another boy said, “Yeah, but Ms. Y was dressed as Obi-Wan, but she had a Kylo Ren light saber and that pissed me off.” There’s just no pleasing seventh grade geeks.

 

Happy last week of school, teachers! We appreciate you! May there be a large margarita in your future.

Posted in Poetry, Teaching

Contests, Workshops, and One Very Creepy Poem

Hello and happy Thursday!

I’ve got some POETRY NEWS to share with you. There’s a little something in this post for everybody—adult poets, student poets, teachers, and even lovers of horror.

Student Poetry Contests

pstlogo_paint_05Entries to the Poetry Society of Texas Student Awards are due March 1, 2016. PST offers 82 contests to students in grades 1 through 12 on a variety of subjects and forms. This is a great way for young writers to find out what it’s like to send their work out to the world. There is no fee to enter, and winning poems will be published in the PST anthology. Teachers, please consider sharing this opportunity with your students. The deadline to submit is only 12 days away!

Austin Poetry Society Annual Awards

APSIf you’re an adult looking to submit work, the Austin Poetry Society’s Annual Contests are open right now. The deadline for submitting is April 1, 2016, and you must be an APS member. (See our website for details about the contests and information on how to join the society.) Winners will be announced at our Annual Awards Ceremony on May 28, 2016. First, second, and third place poets will win cash prizes, and first place poems will be published in the Best Austin Poetry anthology for 2016. (You can buy a copy of the current anthology, which includes two of my poems, at Lulu.com.)

School Visits, Poetry Presentations, & Workshops

SchoolVisits_WellsBranchTeachers in the Austin area, if you’d like a published poet to teach a workshop or presentation to your class, please contact me. I now do school visits and offer five different presentations for grades 3 through 12. Details can be found on my SCHOOL VISITS page. If your students miss the PST contest deadline and are still interested in submitting their work, consider hiring me for the “Path to Publication” presentation. Not only will I teach them proper submission etiquette and help them craft a professional cover letter, but I’ll also provide information about more contests, journals, and organizations who accept work from young poets.

A Little HORROR Poem

377239_origAnd last, but not least, my poem, “Someone,” is published this week at Grievous Angel. If you’re in the mood for something creepy, check it out. And while you’re there, don’t forget to read the other three poems published with it. I’m in good company with Ken Poyner, Herb Kauderer, and John Grey. (Oh, and don’t worry. If you hire me for a school visit, the poems I share with your students will NOT be this scary!)

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Have a great day! Sweet dreams.  🙂
Carie