birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Sheer Necessity

My first day on my present job required me to offer support and talk to a parent about how we could help their child get off probation. My assistant principal briefed me, opening the door to his office, as the parent was being led in. Although I had worked with students who were on and off probation, even in and out of jail, I wasn't exactly prepared to talked to a parent or student I didn't know about their child. As a teacher who works with students with learning disabilities, I had experience talking to parents during IEP meetings about how to give their child the best academic support, as well as what they needed to keep them in school. I sat down, did a quick whip around of their IEP, and listened to the parent as she recounted how hard it was to keep tabs on her son- he was pushing 18- and there was gang affiliation. She was at her wit's end. I asked the usual questions about food, sleep, and family support- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs- and while the son made promises he mostly likely would never keep, his mother went through half a box of kleenex. At the end of the meeting, her son, afraid to even look at his mother, promised to listen to his probation officer, his key to graduating from high school. After they left, my Assistant principal turned to me "Thanks so much- you've obviously been doing this awhile." The truth was, I hadn't been doing it for that long, but, like most jobs, I've often had to fake it to get a job I needed.

When I initially got the call, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I was in the middle of a divorce, and I needed a job close to home and I needed to make it work. And yet, I had never worked with high school students. When I first started teaching, I worked primarily in elementary school. I figured since I had children, I would be able to teach them. How hard could it be? After a few years of teaching elementary and then middle school, and my children were in high school, I thought again, how hard could it be? I had gone to a lot of interviews, and lost a lot of jobs because I was too honest, and was really scared shitless about teaching at all. How did I actually think I could do it? Somehow I made my way, and I won't lie, every day is still a challenge. Looking back, I'm grateful to my assistant principal, who shortly after I started working, had been a teacher in a prison, gave me the confidence to think I could make it in high school. Eight years later, I'm still teaching high school, and I'm still faking it, though it does get easier and easier every day.

Going Nowhere Fast

This Is Fun