How to Memorize π

π like a boss

π like a boss


3.1415926535897932384626433832795098841971693992751 058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679 821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081284 811174502841027019385211055596446229489549303819644 2881097566593344612847

Study these facts for the Math test on Tuesday.

I am 3.14 decades from mastering my craft as a teacher.

592 more essays to revise before I can save 65 students from misusing commas.

The length of 35,897 staff meeting doodles can stretch across the equator 932 times.

38,462 Domino’s pizzas are served in 6,433 cafeterias every Friday for school lunch.

There are 832 different texts in my school’s 79 square foot library.

509 students are interacting through Xbox right now.

8 of my students are writing poetry on a Friday night slamming the 841 ways a heart can break.

There are approximately 97,169 minutes until graduation and 3,992 dreams that will change, expire, birth and evolve before then.

75 pages of Watership Down are assigned for Wednesday’s class, but the students have to answer 1,058,029 test questions between now and then so only 7 will come to class prepared.

There are barely more than 49 months before this year’s eighth graders will be trying on their gowns and mortarboards for the greatest day of their life.

44 students are existentialists contemplating their place in life and overlooking the 592 parallel universes in which their individual dramas play out in life.

30,781,640 people in this country believe that evolution should not be taught in schools and 6,286 people believe Noah will run for Vice President on Adam’s ticket in the next election.

208 school districts being seduced by 99 lobbyists are affecting exactly 8 positive outcomes for education.

Sometimes I wish only 6 more students would care to learn about the power of a persuasive essay.

2,803 more minutes are about to slip away from my life before this exercise ends.

3,482 parents have to take on second jobs each school year directly resulting in 53,421 uncompleted homework assignments.

I have on good word that all 17 people in my classroom will go on to create positive change in the world and 0 will forget my name.

On a good day, 679 synapses fire back to grade school when I teach about suffixes and prefixes.

I leave school every day wishing I could do 82 things differently tomorrow.

The 14 people working in my high school defy 808 impossibilities every morning.

I believe in the number 65. I do.

Did you know the number 132 is a pronic number, the product of eleven and twelve?

Interstate 82 connects Ellensburg, WA and Umatilla, Oregon. And 30 kindergarten students would laugh at the word Umatilla. And probably 6 high school juniors would too.

The average college student today will pay upwards of $64,709 on college tuition at a public university.

There are exactly 38 United States capitals that my students are aware exist. I am sorry, Dover and Augusta.

44 is a pretty number.

609 is the area code of South Jersey, the capital of American shore pines.

55 students are truants every day in order to homeschool themselves.

Exactly 0 people are excited about π at this point.

Somewhere around 58,223 I lose count.

March 17 is the only day of the year until I get to wear an Irish tie without being obnoxious. And even then, there is a 25% chance I will be 35 times more obnoxious than the 940,812 other teachers wearing similar ties.

There are approximately 848 more poems to write about teaching this March, of which only 11 of them will be worth reading..

74 people will obtain four-year college scholarships and spend a 5th year of college on their own dime because they want 0 of the real world.

There are 28 days of February and nearly 410,270 teachers go crazy during this time.

In 1938, John Dewey published a seminal book on education and less than 5,211 educators know this man other than the Patron Saint of Librarians.

0 people believe 555 is a legitimate area code in movies.

9,644 teachers are currently considering the 6 ways they could do something other than teaching with their lives only to show up for the next 22 years in order to reach retirement age and cash in on those 9 golden years before realizing they’ll need to continue working for the next 489 years.

’54 is the year of a landmark case made real a few years later when black girls like Minnijean Brown became women in Little Rock, and 930 months later in the third decade of this century, 38,196,442 students will still deal with inequalities with their education.

My 88 year old grandfather fought approximately 1,097 days in the Pacific during WWII.

5665 is a palindrome and 9 thousand people mistakenly think 3344 is one too.

The release of Highway 61 influenced a generation of Americans to believe Bob Dylan is our greatest American troubadour in need of revisiting.

28 is the second mathematical perfect number, with two of its factors being the neat and tidy 4 and 7. You can’t make that stuff up.


Look Kids! Personification!

A Couple of Tests Debrief the Morning

“Student 0461 was really off base
on #17. It marked C with a heavy bubble
then erased to B, erased, marked A, then C
and the answer was D, none of the above. Those messy bubbles
would have made whatever answer wrong anyway.”

“My Math section was online and every it took about ten minutes
for the entire set of twenty questions. An it can’t get any correct
when each answer takes half a minute.”

“You should have seen 14335 try to explain
the periodic table in the short response portion.
It made a bullet list without mention of metals
or noble gasses.”

“Anyone else have an it skip every question
with blanks?”

“This one it
charted data points
on an F-U axis
plotting the answer with a connect-the-dots
middle finger. Points for creativity?”

“I wonder if the teachers of this it shared the questions.
Look! 14 out of 15 correct. We should monitor it
tomorrow. The test is supposed to be hard.
This data isn’t reliable.”

“I really wonder what 7652 has in store for us tomorrow.
The lyrics of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ for the essay prompt?
It will never pass anything with that attitude.”

“I really love how confusing someone made the second question
on Reading 1. Each it had a different response
to infer the meaning of the word human from the excerpt.
Did any of these its have a competent teacher?”

“One it took two hours
for the Science section. Irony!
It missing a question on species classification?
Almost too much!”

—The New Test Mantra—

Coming to terms with Ennui


Teaching Teachers about Boredom

helping students name their afflictions would be something
extraordinary: just the thesaurus
would cure them of the lethargies. or lassitudes.
ennui? are they
restive? is it the bell schedule monotony

or the dull light of dissatisfaction?
color them on the spectrum
of apathy and frustration
because I think exasperated
might be more apt than indifferent.

true boredom is unattainable
if one owns an imagination, but kids are taught
out of that and into grown up shoes
with times tables, treatises and tablet screens
well before they’ll see you.

so in defense of the endless mind
structure daydreaming into instructional time
and call it brainstorming. give them possibilities
to work with,
not simply

problems or paragraphs
or propaganda.
school does not have to be boring
but you may be backed into many corners
learning how it will be.

Disciples of Abbey

they should have been more specific
when they said teachers need to be teaching
readers with more rigorous texts. so even though Edward Abbey
is not a writer
from their preferred canon,

I teach the books about a world of blowing up
different Keystone XLs
beer-blurried and Vietnam-shocked
in the red hot Southwest. my students like it.
the desert is already their heartbreak

landscape. we delve into the coal seam
metaphors; the Moloch roiling
beneath the surface, where uranium lives
an American dream is bulldozed
into the quiet places of the indian rez,

Moloch, the radioactive forever-lit cathedral.
do the testmakers mind if I reshape these
close readers into environmental acolytes? are they ready
for the next generation of wilderness folk,
hellbent Leopolds? sparking wildfires

of mind
from this public education imperative,
a teacher can make a mighty fine monkeywrencher
out of these standards.

Week One Word Cloud

Thank you to anyone and everyone who is reading, sharing, reflecting. It was a crazy week trying to all of this writing after school each day. I hope I can keep up the pace!

Here is a Word Cloud, thanks to, that highlights where my poetry resides. I am glad the word test is not the most frequent word. Interesting words are showing up here. Time and tired. School and grandmother.

Only three more weeks of poems. Hope we have the energy for it!


Those Who Can

No Contractions

why go through the trouble
shoving together ideas at odds
–can and not–

the lightning tipped apostrophe
is contracting
chance into paralysis
because industry contracts
economy contracts
The world of can’t cracks and collapses

humans stretch
people explore
students can
can is an opus

there is nowhere to hide behind can
you may not cower in your doubts
you may not avoid the work to be done

convincing yourself
you can’t now
means you won’t tomorrow

when you can analyze literature
it means you will write it

say I can examine my life as a journey
and someday you will be someone’s hero

if you can’t
then don’t

but come back to my classroom
after you have calculated all the wasted time
troubling with the odds

and you are tired of missing your chances

A shout out to the famous Taylor Mali poem to frame today’s effort! If you have never seen this, please watch this and many more videos of this amazing poet’s work.

Eulogy for Education

(Inspired by Audre Lorde’s Eulogy for Alvin Frost)

I am tired of writing memorials for their dreams
tired of them disappearing

one time a young girl catalyzed her peers
to walk out in support of a teacher
who taught for students
and not administrivia

the teacher was let go at the end of the year
the student dropped out the next fall

and I saw you growing tired too

it was rarely roses with you anyhow.

I teach a remarkable new people—
these first generation high school graduates
with grandparents who had first languages beaten out of them
and so my students have less stories now.

and when separate was equal
the barbs of police batons contained
that colorless synonym for negro
beaten into a next generation.

too often
there is no way
to unravel your thorns
for my students.

I am done with you as the cold blank monolith

once an 11th grader came to my door
with a 2nd grade reading level
after many schools and many Ds (not Fs)

and we tested him

his data unveiled a case of neglect
and oversight too absurd for criminality
but too common for education

I heard them on the television speaking of a resurrection
but I do not believe it:

this pale Lazarus lifeless and dull
made more dull with the ash of the rising place.

they speak of second coming
omitting how they were the ones hollowing

you. they hoped I would mourn you
and pray for a moment like this

new gospel.
they are selling something I cannot believe.

I love showing students their data
because it helps them make sense of themselves.

but we let data speak alone
when we know damn well
too many schools forget

to teach students
to speak for themselves.

perhaps we should have let go sooner.
it would have been easier if we had torn down
those schools. we never should have closed them.
we all would have been forced then

to revision,

to hold stake.
imagine if we built
gardens in every vacant classroom window
and planetariums of our cavernous gyms.

I remember my greatest days
on a mountain trail with fourteen teenagers

or on the shore of a lake
ready to throw away stones we had painted

with our burdens and carried
for a week. you were with me visiting

ruins near the lava field
when we learned about seeing land

like an owl, returning to school
with a different sense of sight:

we are better humans with all-sides-eyes.
I will always hold the borderplaces

where people I have met stitch the sutures
of our coming together

and ripping apart.

you were a stunning companion.