This is one of my daily exercises. The first sentence is the prompt from a book.
| Sometimes I feel just like a gerbil running around and around on his wheel. I spend my days spiraling, trying to accomplish the same things but never feeling as if I do. I show up to work, harried before the students even get here. I don't sleep much. I spend my night fitfully wondering if I'm doing what I need to do. Can I help these kids? Why should onomatopoeia matter to the girl whose mom was shot in the head while they were sitting on the sofa together? Honestly, when the only keepsake you have from your mother is the image of her blood spattered on your clothing, why would you care if you actually made it to school every day?
I hear the same nonsense every day. "You can fix them." Yeah, I can take these fourteen and fifteen year-olds and undo years of abuse, drugs, and neglect. By teaching them that pronouns must agree with their antecedents, I will forever change their lives.
I see the same wheels spinning daily. In my classes I have two pregnant fourteen year-olds just like their mothers were before them. These babies, if they are born healthy, will likely face the same hardships their parents faced.
I'm not supposed to leave any child behind, but how can I help it? My hands are bound by a system that says that the score on a state test is more important than the basic life and communication skills that my students need.