Midnight in Brooklyn


I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that I have been teaching for seven years. It isn’t long but it is still more than a minute in this profession. I have taught children who are now in university. With teaching for this long comes its dulls. There are days that remind me of other days, students who remind me of other students, and even years that remind me of past ones. So please forgive me if I am not the best teacher I can be every day. It is hard. But I also think that that is life. And that thought is important.


It’s a breezy night and I am reflecting, reflecting on my life, my craft, my chosen profession, my ex-girl, my habits, and my nature that has morphed parts of my personality. And while the wind chimes sing, I reflect on my practice. And I think to myself, “damn, I teach with all this baggage, imagine the baggage my students bring into the classroom”. This is what I think about at midnight in Brooklyn.


You see, the fickle thing about teaching is that it is truly a calling. Especially where I teach. You either have it or you don’t. Where I come from, you either know how to float or you drown – and we ain’t talking about water. You’re either a king or queen, or you are a pawn – that goes for students and teachers. So, how do we equip teachers with the skills that they all need?


I think the first step is very basic. If you teach in a community that you do not know much about, you should probably get to know it. Start with the streets, and then the stores and places, and finally end with the lingo. In certain areas, one mile can change everything, so start by getting to know your area.


Area – what a transient word. What is your area as a teacher? Understand your limitations and boundaries. But also understand where you can extend yourself. What I am saying is rather simple, but contextually, very complex. Know yourself and be that person, unless the kids are treating you in a way – and if they are, reflect on your practice and reflect on yourself as an educator. And if it continues to happen, and your only mechanism of defense is sending kids to the office and telling them, I told you so, then maybe you should consider asking yourself if you are, in fact, in the right profession.


These are my midnight flows. I am not perfect. Come into my classroom on a Wednesday in November or March and you may fully see the shell of the teacher that writes these blogs. But I am, at the least, reflective. One of the most important characteristics of an educator, constantly thinking about what works and what doesn’t.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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