Listen to the Mustn'ts

As I near the end of yet another school year, my students have accomplished some amazing things. From Innovation Day and Holes in my Wall to Student Driven Learning and Lip Dub, it has been a great year. One of those years, that I have to think to myself, “does it get any better than this?” I know I will return in the fall pumped and ready to take on more challenges and more than likely bite off more than I can chew once again.
While we wind down, I use this poem in my Language Arts class by one of my favorite poets, Shel Silverstein.
Listen to the Mustn'ts 
Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974)

The reason I use this poem is to serve as a simple but powerful message to both my students and myself. There will be people in our lives that will try to put us down and hold us back. Often times, we will never know what our students deal with outside of school and in their “real” lives. However, we need to empower those students and be supportive of their dreams in the time we have them in our classrooms. We all have dreams and too often they are crushed at an early age.

Listen to all the haters out there…then go and do what you are passionate about in spite of what you hear.


Scratchie said...


Have a great break and remember your mates from Down Under who are passionately working hard with our students to set them free to learning.

Kelley Feagin said...

I too love this poem and often share it with my students as we start the year. I think it is so important for us to remember as teachers as well. When we find and follow what we are passionate about we are successful no matter how many "n'ts" we may be faced with. Thanks for the reminder. Looking forward to a new year where once again "anything can happen," and "anything can be."