a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS

“So, Christy, what else do I need to know about ISAT testing?” asks a teacher new to our building.

Just at that moment, a student walks up to talk to me.  Immediately, she shrinks back, realizing she almost interrupted two teachers. 

“Oh, go ahead,” the other teacher encourages her, noticing how polite she is trying to be.

“Oh, no, my question is not important.  I can wait,” the student offers.

“Not important?  Everything you have to say is important,” the teacher encourages.

“Well, actually I just wanted to talk to Mrs. Rush about something.  So, I’ll wait.” 

“Okay, then.  I’ll just take two minutes,” says the teacher. 

I hurry to remember what I just went over with the new teacher I am mentoring to provide him with the highlights as quickly as possible.  When I am finished, the teacher walks away and I turn to the student.

“Can I talk to you in private?” she asks me.

“Of course, come on in,” I lead her into my classroom.

These moments always seize my chest.  I brace myself, hoping this is not bad news.

“Mrs. Rush, I have an awkward question to ask, but I am not sure who else to go to.  I think I can talk to you.  If this makes you feel awkward, just tell me and I will leave and forget about it.”  Although I am charmed by her vulnerability and openness, I am growing more and more uneasy.

I try not to show my hesitation.  I nod and smile in response, encouraging her to share.  However, I inside I am beginning to panic a little, running through every similar exchange I have ever had with a student… confiding abuse, confessing self-harm, complaining about another staff member… this is not looking good.

She shifts the weight of her books from one arm to another, and bursts out, “What do you do when you like someone and you haven’t told anyone, but then your friend starts talking about liking that very same person?”

Phew.  I almost feel guilty for breathing a sigh of relief over her pain.  Have I mentioned I love teaching middle school?

p.s. Is it terrible if, after discovering the “friend” is not someone she trusts enough to be honest with, my advice involved stealing the guy out from under the “friend”?


  1. Personally, I love the p.s. in your post. As a middle school teacher I get it. There is a reason we teach middle school! :)

  2. I know that feeling of panic about what the student is about to reveal. Kudos to you for being 'that' teacher.

  3. I was so afraid of what she wanted to tell you! Great advice!

  4. That is what I loved about teaching 7th grade. I could feel the pit in the stomach and the relief that's all this was as I read this. Some things will never change:)

  5. I love the p.s. too! I'm so with you. :) I teach sixth grade. I would have given the same advice. We own it to our students to be honest, right?

  6. .. the sigh of relief... You built the suspense well. It is likely you will hear more from this student. Hopefully about positive and happy moments.

  7. It's so great to hear that she came to you, so that's the first thing, but I also understand that sinking feeling when they say "I need to talk". I've had a few 'bad' conversations, but mostly, in middle school, it's trivial. They there are those one suspects could "use" a talk. As for the fun p.s., I would probably say the same thing, especially if you think they're not friends. I guess "All's Fair In Love and War" do you remember?

  8. Okay first off, I'm a little worried about the teacher who can learn everything she needs to know about ISAT in two minutes. Just kidding, I know you have prepared her with previous consultations. :-)
    Love the way you used the dialogue and your inner thoughts. Of course this girl would come to you, you can be trusted because she knows you are real and you are there for your kids. I'm so glad there are people like you to love this age, I don't think I could. I hope the guy is worth her trouble.

  9. Awesome advice. ;)

    I love the way you crafted tension throughout this slice. It's something I'm attempting to learn how to explain in concise terms to students. This is a prime example -- the dialogue and your inner thoughts helped create tension.

  10. Oh, the pit was in my stomach too -- you just never know what they are going to share. So sweet that she came to you . . . about a boy. Oh, the drama, huh?

  11. You are obviously in the right profession. Love your advice (that's what I'd have told her too). The way you tell your stories about kids is entertaining and powerful and just plain good reading.

  12. I echo what others have said. It is all a matter of perspective, isn't it?