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Teaching English

By Emily Dillon

Driving a student home after reporting child abuse against her, wondering if the abusive father will answer the door; teachers secretly playing bingo during our 45-minute active shooter training; deciding which students will move the teacher’s desk in front of the door when an active shooter is outside; unable to breathe, staring at the computer screen, 125 essays to grade every three weeks; the student who ran away from home; the student whose brother was murdered (strangled); the co-teacher who said, "those parents need to stop pulling their pants down and having kids" and "that student is such a bitch;" reporting that co-teacher and knowing he went to work at another school; bruises on my legs from pushing desks back into place; losing my best friend to another career; losing my next two friends to other careers; losing a school to poor administration; the student who threw her body against my classroom door trying to fight me; no one reading my special education reports but checking that I wrote them; withholding report cards until students pay the cafeteria bill; students not knowing where to turn in their free-and-reduced-price meal forms; buying the top two requested items for our students: deodorant and clothing detergent; the squirrel in the ceiling; the vice principal reading off slides in professional development; sick every fall, every winter, every spring, whenever the students return from break; a student whose house burned down the night before; the student that made random high pitched beeps in class; the department supervisor who took a meeting with feet up on her desk; the student who missed class for a month because he was playing video games at home; the counselor emailing saying that I’m doing a great job; the daily fourth-period routine, 46-minutes long: lock computer, lock classroom door, fill up water bottle, use bathroom, breathe 5 times as prescribed by doctor, exit bathroom, grab lunchbox from fridge, microwave lunch, unlock classroom door, unlock computer, eat lunch, answer all emails, plan next day’s lesson, print handouts, lock computer, lock classroom door, return lunchbox, pick up printouts, make copies, unlock classroom door, unlock computer, host lunch detention; and did you know that a whipped wire has to leave a bruise or mark on the body—no matter the skin color—to be considered child abuse?

Emily Dillon is a writer and educator from Maryland whose creative work ranges from nonfiction to poetry and all the lyrical places in-between; find her on

Art by Chas Foster.


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