Teacher overload: Why it’s sometimes hard to connect with students

Published on: December 26, 2022 6:00 AM EST

Illustration of teacher holding stack of books and papers, separated from student by six moments from her busy day.
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The sun shines at my back as I greet my students, my lovelies, at the door.

Good morning hi lovely good morning miss hi how are you good morning I like your shirt good morning lovelies hi miss good morning I’m glad you’re here hi I missed you.

Chairs scrape the floor. An errant phone buzzes and scraps of conversation — about Instagram, what happened on the bus, someone’s new shoes — float across the room. A few lovelies unzip their bags; most walk to the bookshelf in the corner. Chairs scrape the floor. Again. Books open. One mind at a time begins to focus on the words on the page, and we shuffle into near silence.

I’m counting the copies I made, writing the objective on the board and taking attendance when he comes to the door. It’s his normal time: not yet late, but almost.

“Ms. Graham,” he says, before we even greet each other, “last night I had a dream that life was easy and sin was hard.”

I should ask him what his life made easy would look like. I should ask who still had the willpower to sin. Why. I want to know who was there, who wasn’t, how he felt. Most importantly, I should tell him: his mind dazzles me.

Instead, without thought, I say, “Wow. I can’t even imagine that.”

As he walks to his desk and puts down his bag, I add, “Please tell me about it later,” doubting that I’ll remember to make this come true.

Kerry Graham teaches high school English for Baltimore City Public Schools and is a creative in residence for The Baltimore Banner.

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