Archives for posts with tag: teaching

Norval Morisseau 1
How to teach remotely during a pandemic
(an acrostic poem )
by Jennifer Hernandez

Put on lipstick before you start the meet.
Ask students to mute their mics and sign into the chat.
Never assume that random family members aren’t listening to your every word.
Dogs, cats, and younger siblings are welcome visitors to the virtual classroom
except when barking, meowing or screaming while the
mic’s unmuted.
I used to be an old-school teacher, but
Coronavirus has
taught me a thing or two.
Elkin. Aron. Sebastian. Theresa. Jamela.
Axel. Juan Diego. Alina. Arina. Olu.
Chromebooks connect us, let us
hear voices, laughter. Let us see images & when
I’m lucky – even faces.
Newly vaccinated, I am both anxious and apprehensive to
greet students in person for the first time in nearly a year.

PAINTING: Teaching by Norval Morrisseau (XX Century).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Teaching online has meant learning a plethora of new skills. I have long prided myself on not being a “slides” teacher, rather engaging my students in interactive lessons that include lots of movement, partner and small group work, and often construction paper and markers. Everything changed drastically when my district moved to distance learning in March 2020. We muddled through last spring. Since this fall, I feel that I’ve become quite adept at staying true to my teaching style and embracing the technology that has allowed me to continue the work that I love. In the early days of the pandemic, I was taking a Short Poems class with LouAnn Muhm through North Beach Writers Retreat and was introduced to the idea of the “hidden acrostic.” This form has allowed me to write about the pandemic, something which I’ve needed to do.

Hernandez copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota with her husband, three sons, senior black lab, portly tuxedo cat, and pandemic puppy. She has taught immigrant youth for over 20 years and also writes poetry, flash, and creative nonfiction. Recent publications include Ekphrastic Review, Talking Stick, and Verse-Virtual (Pandemic Poems). She has been teaching remotely from her living room since March 2020, but hybrid is looming with concurrent full in-person and distance learning not far behind.

By Taylor Mali

I walked into the classroom and straight to my chair,
But when I reached for my pen, it just wasn’t there!
I had no pen! or crayon! or pencil!
I was stuck before class without a writing utensil.

I could have asked the teacher (if I had dared,)
But I knew she would have said, “You’re unprepared!”
So to be diplomatic and avoid the fight
I quickly turned to the girl on my right,

Do you possibly have a pen I could borrow?
I’ll use it today and have it back by tomorrow.
“Oh! Furshur! What kind? I’ve got plenty.”
And she turned around with a handful of twenty.

I really don’t care what color or style,
I’ll take the fountain pen, I said with a smile.
“Oh, you don’t want that one. It comes out all ugly.
And it’s made of pure gold,” she said to me smugly.

Then how bout the blue?
“No, that one hops.”
Okay, maybe the green?
“Comes out in glops.”
“I’m afraid it’s having trouble connecting.”
“I’ll need it if we do any in-class correcting.”
Look, I said, my voice filling with fear,
Just gimme a pen before the teacher gets here!

“But this one always comes out in tons,
The yellow one skips and the purple one runs.
When the brown one dries, it looks real icky,
And the orange one’s covered with something sticky.
This one’s for emergencies (in case I get confused)
‘cause it’s clean and it’s fresh and it’s never been used.
I keep this one for quizzes ‘cause it brings good luck,
And the ballpoint’s splotchy and the cap is stuck.
This one’s empty, with the silver band,
And the felt-tip will leak all over your hand.
This one’s cracked, and that’s gone berserk!
And that would be perfect but it doesn’t work.
But here! Take this one! This one’s fine!
Oh wait…I’m sorry, this one’s mine.”
I think she went on but I couldn’t have cared.
I decided it was better to go unprepared.


Visit poet Taylor Mail at his website See him read “On Girls Lending Pens” at

Photo: My Life as a Bargainista, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton

I noticed that most of my students
Were gazing longingly out the window
On an unusually beautiful
Southern California morning
I paused in my lecture to discover
That they were collectively noticing the unusual fruit
Exploding on the tree just outside our window
“What kind of fruit is that?”
They wondered with more curiosity than
They had ever shown for Plato or Rousseau
And so I told them about the pomegranate
How according to the Q’uran, it filled the gardens of paradise
How its image had once adorned the temples of Solomon
How it doomed Persephone to Hades
How it symbolizes prosperity and fertility in Hinduism
How it came here to us:
From the Iranian Plateaus to Turkey
Across the Mediterranean and transported across the oceans
By the Spanish conquistadors
How the city of Kandahar—now bombed and ravaged—
Was once reputed to have the finest pomegranates in the world
I told them that this was my favorite tree
And then we all went outside for a moment—
To marvel at this tree
Just staring for a moment
While the wind blew
Across our faces, a tender caress across the ages
And then the moment was gone—
The next day I walked into class
And someone, anonymously, had placed a single pomegranate
On my desk at the front of the class,
An altar before thirty students,
All newly baptized—
The red stain of pomegranate seeds outlining
Their smiles

Illustration: “Pomegranate Tree,” watercolor by Karina Zlotnikov, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish and facility for successfully pursuing the unsolved ones.”


PHOTO: President Abraham Lincoln and his 11-year-old son Tad, 1864