Teacher Reflections

let me use my mind

By Brooke Schulte Olivieri, March 23, 2014

I know it’s quicker to give me the answer

                                but let me use my mind.

I know I might get the problem wrong

                                but let me use my mind.

I know it might slow down the lesson

                                but let me use my mind.

I know you have a test to teach

                                but let me use my mind.

I know it takes me longer to think

                                but let me use my mind.

I know it takes me longer to speak

                                but let me use my mind.

I know it takes me longer to read

                                but let me use my mind.

I know you’re on a time crunch

                                but let me use my mind.

I know the other kid always has the right answer

                                but let ME use my mind.

I know my hand’s no longer raised…

                                makes me think I have no thinking mind.



by Marva Collins July 23, 1983

I am in danger, teacher; you rescue me.

I say things when I am angry, Teacher, and you forgive me for you know that I hurt inside.

I am in the dark, Teacher, and you show me light.

I am doubtful and you give me faith.

I am neglected, and you teach me.

You ignore the tags, labels and former statistics that have signified that I am a failure…you show me success.

I am a child, and you show me the way.  You know that I still have to grow, to learn, and to become.

You know that I cannot become more than what I am, and you are patient enough to never give up on me.

Everybody else says that I am “bad.” But you Teacher can see the “good” me, and for you I become good.

I am lost and you give me directions.

I waste time and you show me how to use my time wisely.

You do not nag…you forgive…and you show me that you care not just by the things you say to me, but I see the love for me in your eyes and I dare not let you down…

I succeed, Teacher for you, and before I know it I have learned to love success.

I see only today, but you show me the vision of the future.

You make me like what I see in the future, and therefore I am motivated to use today more wisely.

When I attempt to go backwards, you push me forward.

I am sometimes stunted by the failures of my past, and you make me see the glory of the future.

You have unblocked my fetid channels through which now creativity and self-reliance can flow.

You see today as my beginning, and you do not remember the decadent past.

When I am afraid, you give me courage…when I am marooned by the problems of life, you encourage me to steal the will in pleasure or in pain go forth.  I want to learn…I want to achieve…and you teach me.

Thank you, Teacher.  Know what?  I love you.

I love you because you are so forgiving.  I love you because when the world saw failure, you, Teacher, saw light.  Because of you the light shall never flicker, and I am now motivated to light the dying embers of others who too, have been tagged and labeled.  Never forget, Teacher…I love you.

Collins, Marva (1992). “Ordinary” Children, Extra Ordinary Teachers. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., p. 205.


Recipe for excellent students

by Marva Collins October 4, 1991

One class of children of all creeds, races, and colors.

Heaping doses of praise.

Daily doses of “You are bright, you can do it.”

Plenty of “you children are a promise, a great bundle of potentiality.”

Frequent reminders of “I will not let you fail.”

Mix thoroughly with bright, motivated, positive teachers until the eyes of children hold wonder like a cup.

Nurture above children for a few years, and there will be ample servings for the locales of the world, for society, and with equal ease, these children will one day maintain the American Dream.

The temperature should always be warm, caring, dedicated, and genuinely loving.


 Collins, Marva (1992). “Ordinary” Children, Extra Ordinary Teachers. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., p. 231



We Cry “A True Poem”

By Brooke Schulte Olivieri

Teaching in a Title I school is emotionally and spiritually demanding as we witness our students encounter tragic childhood events, and later…adulthood events. Our students can become like our children.  As their teachers we are often with them more than their own parents.  We do have an impact in helping to raise them and mentor them as they grow up.  We see many wonderful success stories.  However the reality is that some of “our children” will encounter very traumatic life events as they face the odds that are against them in their quest to attain a higher education and a fulfilling life.  Contrary to what outsiders may think, we do not work an 8am-3pm job.  We are emotionally tied to our students…even though we deal with the pain in silence.
We can’t act as if it doesn’t affect us in some way.  We are human and wish that every one of our children grows up and “beats the odds.”  This poem includes all true events from the students of just one teacher.  May this poem be symbolic of the hardships that so many of us have to process when the unthinkable happens to “our children.”

We cry for the mothers who want more than anything for their child to beat the odds.
We cry for the fathers who yearn for their child to become empowered and educated.
We cry for the great-grandmothers who are raising children because of the ill effects of drugs and incarceration.
We cry for our favorite students who are murdered.
We cry for the brilliant gentleman who chose instead to join his neighborhood gang.
We cry for the gifted child who had so much potential but is selling drugs on the street corner.
We cry for our students when they are raped.
We cry for the little girls who are forced to grow up too fast.
We cry for the beautiful little girl who was forced into prostitution.
We cry for the child who will witness their mother get beaten nine months pregnant until she can no longer get up.
We cry for the little boy as he is emotionally traumatized as his mother goes in and out of drug binges.
We cry for the child who was terrified in the middle of the night when the S.W.A.T. team busted through the window in his bedroom while he was sleeping.
We cry for the boy who witnessed his idol, his father get thrown onto the ground and arrested in front of him on his way to school.
We cry for Innocence Lost…
We cry for lack of Equal Chance…
We cry for the American Dream Denied.
We cry.

Please take a moment to submit your own writings, reflections, or other forms of art.  They may just be displayed on the Title I Teacher Support Network website!


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One Response to Teacher Reflections

Andy C. Ng says:
June 15, 2013 @ 12:47 am

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

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