I don’t teach subjects; I teach students.

I don’t teach students.  I teach xbox.  I teach ipod and Halo and mp3.  I teach rockbands and breakdancers noobies and posers.  I teach Twitter Facebook and online bullying.  I teach the narrow line between slipshod parenting and overbearing media petstrings.  I teach down the aisle of a testscore supermarket.  I teach Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana and Saw one through five.  I teach the gay kid raised atheist and sent to a Catholic school, and the angry black-haired white chick with the knee-high shit-kickers and a home-pierced beauty mark stud that looks infected.  I teach family life and human sexuality to kids who stay up till three watching free clips of internet porn on their flash media players.  I teach the loud and the boisterous and the timid and the angry and the giddy and the waiting for something meaningful to tap me on the shoulder.  I teach testtaking and desksitting and holding it till the bell rings.  I teach bundles of insecurity and helplessness wrapped in grape-scented lipgloss with glitter.  I teach giggles and taunting and text-message flirting.  I teach body odour and boners and pants put on backwards by accident.  I teach digital SMARTBoard PowerPoint presentations and chewing the inside of your cheek to bite back the sobs.  I teach the kid whose parents just don’t know what to do anymore.  I teach the kid with a ninety-three and the kid with a thirty-nine.  I teach e-mails and phonecalls and missing assignments.  I teach mohawks and cutmarks and brothers with cancer.  I teach band-aids.  I teach chewed-up pencils and Redbull and Jolt.  I teach in a vacuum that’s sucked up everything good and pure about being human and sat it in desks right in front of me.  I teach the treasures of our future and the most significant beings in existence.  I teach beauty and hope and something so perfect it can’t be contained.  I teach life in a whirlwind that would go on without me.  I teach nothing.  I teach speechless at the front of a boiling sea of rage and discontent that’s shrouded in a mist of indifference.  I teach hate.  I teach love.  I teach faith.  I teach the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.  I teach fear and guilt and forgiveness.  I teach control.  I teach worth.  I teach effort and marks and report cards.  I teach subjects.


5 thoughts on “I don’t teach subjects; I teach students.

  1. Tyler, my dad shared your website with me. Your poetry leaves me speechless – so honest and beautiful. What a gift you are to your students. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for making this poem available for us. I heard you read it at the Volunteer Appreciate Event at the Central Public Library in Calgaryt last Friday. You must have been told a hundred times that your soothing voice makes you stand out from the crowd. I worked with high school students for a few years and I was moved to tears by the deep sentiment and sincererity your poem portrayed. I will share it with special teachers I know.
      God bless you and the students you work with.

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