Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-through June 21, 2017

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:21 pm
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I’m through

with being split in two



No more trying to be

too many of me.


the best is there is to shine,

when troubled is the rare and not the rule,

where expecting excellence

is rewarded,

not met with whines.

Once, I’d have wept to leave this team,

but now it seems we’ve seen the best

and sweeping up the mess

is all that’s left.

It makes it easier to say good bye

When a dream is dangled before your eyes,

and so you reach, because like me,

sometimes you’re surprised by victory.

Now I can be

just one me,

doing what’s my specialty.



poem- flourishing April 22, 2016

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:23 am
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Last year,

we met to discuss how we were flourishing,

what made this place so wonderful,

so welcoming,

so special.

This year,

I read your words about us,

and my body weeps at what has become

of our once wonderful




Tension in my shoulders.

Stomach churning.

Nails bitten.

Eyes clouded.

Head throbbing.

Make do with less until there is nothing left.

Remake what was precious and original

into tiny boxes that shove our innovation

into boring cookie cutters

and the only flourish is from the arm

cutting us to fit.


school over haikus June 28, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:20 pm
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Heart tight bound again
with futile cords. Door echoes.
Yearly denouement

A plant can not thrive
uprooted every few months.
I am still root-less

How can teachers bloom?
Hopeful blossoms fight
‘gainst futility.


sending off smiles September 26, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:33 pm
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There is a young man in our community who works at the McDonald’s drive-through.  When you buy your meal on his shift, you take home a smile with your meal.  His exhuberence for his job makes everyone who comes into contact with him a little happier.

What a great example of how a positive attitude can impact everyone around you.  Some people would say working in a fast food drive-through is a crappy job and you’re justified in grumbling.  Lance knows that all work has value, and that spreading a smile makes any job worthwhile.

You can choose to be happy with your job and take the opportunity to spread a little joy.  Consider it vocational service.  It will make your work day fly by, it will improve the lives of your co-workers and your clients.


Read the local news story here.


what I hate about my job September 4, 2010

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:42 am
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True confession: Although generally I adore my job, I do dislike a few things about it.  In fact, there is one thing I truly hate: insecurity.

I dislike the  current policies that lead to a cycle of teachers on temporary contracts.  These policies ensure one can’t plan for the future more than a year (and sometimes only a semester) away. There is no incentive to take the time to develop innovative programs when you’re likely to be usurped the next year. I dislike that there is no continuity, so it is really hard for the kids who have forged connections and are eager to have you again the next year. I dislike the uncertainty of never knowing from year to year (or semester to semester) where we’ll be teaching or even what we’ll be teaching. Most of all, I hate days like the last day of school when in some schools the majority of a staff is out of a job, and good-byes are said to staff who have been told farewell several years in a row. 

In the next breath the administration praises and glows about the amazing achievements of a staff member who is retiring after being in the school 30 years. Doesn’t anyone make the connection? Security brings excellence.  When you have the sense of belonging and value, you can concentrate not only on what is happening in your class, but in the entire school. If you know you’re going to be there doing the same job the next year, you can work to develop cohesive strategies for excellence that build over several years.  You can watch the progress of not just kids, but programs.  You can arrange school trips. You can develop innovative programs and strategies.  Is it any wonder you achieve amazing things when you can be in a school for ten, twenty or thirty years?

It’s not a coincidence.

This year, after several years in one school (renewed semester by semester), I’m laid off and back on the sub-list.  I can work with that; there are lots of perks of subbing, and with my need to work with the editor on preparing Grace Awakening for publication, this is probably a good semester to have the flexibility of subbing.   I’m really sorry about all the kids that have asked me what my course schedule is though, because they want to take English with me.  They don’t understand why I’m out of a job. 

What can I tell them? It was bad timing?  The change to allow outside teachers to transfer seniority to other districts that meant those who had arrived in their chosen district before that contract change and who didn’t get to transfer their years are now caught in a no man’s land of yearly bumping?  Short term thinking? 

I’ll survive.  I always do.  But I really feel sorry for the kids who value the security and consistency of seeing the teachers they love.   “What happened to…?” they ask.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  It doesn’t make sense to many rational people.

Business needs to understand this as well.  Keeping your workers ‘lean and hungry,’ on edge and insecure does not make them work harder for you.  It makes them stressed.  Stress means sick leaves.  Security means happy workers, and happiness improves productivity and engenders innovation.   Some fascinating research has been done in this area, studying some innovative practices in factories with guaranteed employment.  While other businesses were falling apart, they were thriving.   If everyone followed this model, perhaps the workers would be happily producing more children, who would eliminate the declining enrollment statistics and ensure greater employment for teachers.

I’d like a permanent job.


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