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Make Me or Break Me: A Poem for Frustrated Teachers

Roxanna Elden


Feeling frustrated in the classroom and counting down the days unttil your next break?

Take comfort in knowing you're not alone with a poem by Roxanne Elden, author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She captures the do or die attitude of teachers struggling in their first year.

  Make Me or Break Me: A Poem for Frustrated Teachers

Make Me or Break Me

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They say this first year will make me

Or break me.

I guess that’s because it takes me

Eight days to get through a stack of papers

And there are eight more waiting,

And every day I stay at school later

And get less done…

This is NOT fun.

Help me someone!!!


I’m already counting how many more

Mondays Until vacation

(There are 12, by the way,

And I’m getting impatient)

Because I spent all last night

On grading and preparation

But I can’t get these kids to just


And take this inspiration.


My temptation to keep driving

Instead of arriving

In the teachers’ parking lot

Is almost as strong

As my fear of what could go wrong

If I don’t pull into this parking spot

And I’m not sure if I can take it…


I’m trying so hard to make it work

The way the movies make it seem.

I’ve been sacrificing so much sleep

I forgot what it feels like to dream.

This isn’t the person I’m used to being

Not the image of me I’m used to seeing


I miss the days when I was a student,

Complaining about teachers to my friends…

This job seemed so easy from the other end.

From here, nothing looks the same,

And you know what’s even more of a shame?

I hear my teachers’ voices

When I yell my students’ names.


And you know that one quiet girl,

In the back,

With the glasses?

I overheard her mom saying

She wants to change classes.


They say this job is rewarding, but lately

I just feel like all my students hate me…

Their papers frustrate me

And I’m going so crazy

No sane person would want to date me.


But I’m here to stay

It takes a lot to break me


And that’s why I say

No matter what it takes me…


This year

Is gonna MAKE me.


How are you surviving the school year so far? Share your own laments or cheer your year in the comments section!