The Student Information System

School starts in ten days and  
I have a list of names in a spreadsheet
freshly extracted from the student information system

The S. I. S.  

Fourth graders, all
as that’s what I teach 
Fourth graders.  You’ve heard that old line, right? 

“Oh, you’re a teacher.  What do you teach?”  

“Fourth graders.” Awkward pause.

I’ve looked at that spreadsheet and even queried the SIS
that all-knowing database
but found it to be missing some information

The student in the 11th row 
is he excited about coming to school?  

I wonder about the kiddo in row 4
Science is her favorite subject
but how can I help her love the others?

Does Row Number 6 know that Row Number 8 
is worried about making friends
just like he is?

Row 2 can’t wait to tell me about her summer,
her trip, and all the fun she had, yet

There’s no mention that Row 23 
wishes she could forget the last three months

Row 14, I’ll find out on my own
loves reading while snuggled on the couch 
with his new step-mom

But that’s not in the database  

I have birthdays and addresses 
I guess there’s that

14 thoughts on “The Student Information System”

  1. Great poem! Poetry has a way of bringing wonder into our lives. I like how its musing and we don’t have to find an answer or a thesis. Also your poem has me thinking about data and how unfortunately so many decisions get based on boiling kids down to numbers on spreadsheets. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Data is not everything.There is always more to each child than what is reported on a database. Thanks for writing about a thought those outside of education forget, Tim. Good luck with the 2021-22 school year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim, what a powerful poem to express the personhood of each of the fourth graders. I am so glad they get to have you for a teacher, someone who cares deeply about all those more important details and will work to find them out!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You captured perfectly what it’s like to go from 0 –> 60 as a teacher. You start with names and faces, birthdays and addresses. Then in a matter of hours and days, you build a living loving community of learners. So exciting. So much fun. Best wishes for an amazing year for you and your scholars!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Important hidden messages here in this most pertinent of poems Tim. Our energy in those early days of every school year must be directed towards knowing and growing those curious learners that enter our lives. Building trust and self belief count for everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim, I love this poem. It brought back loads of teaching memories for me–and my own schooldays, too. I hopehopehope you print this out, large, and post it in your room from the very first day of school (or even from open house night on). This poem shows so much of you and lets your lucky students know you see them and care about lots more than what their school records say.

    Liked by 1 person

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