(with apologies to Kenny Rogers)
On a warm September mornin’ on a couch in a staffroom
I met up with a teacher, we were both too tired to speak.
So we took turns a-starin’ out the window at a school bus
Till boredom overtook us and she began to speak.
She said “Son, I’ve made a life out of readin’ student papers
And knowin’ what their marks were by the way the dot their i’s.
So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of essays.
For a taste of your coffee, I’ll give you some advice.”
So I handed her my coffee and she drank down my last swallow.
Then she bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
And the room got deathly quiet and her face lost all expression.
She said, “If you’re gonna teach a class, boy, you gotta learn to teach ’em right.”
“You got to know when to pass ’em, know when to fail ’em
Know when to phone in sick, know when to lie.
You never mark your papers when you’re sittin’ in the staffroom.
There’ll be time enough for bridge and lunch when the markin’s done.”
“Every teacher knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ when reports are due and markin’ on a curve
For every A’s a winner and every F’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to win 649.”
And when she finished speakin’, she turned back toward the window,
Crushed out her cigarette and wandered off to class.
And somewhere in the hallway, the marker she expired.
But in her final words I found a gem that I could keep.