Nothing Can Stop Us: Stairs and other Metaphors

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, the DuBois students and I returned to a concept we had touched upon the previous week—vocabulary. It is so important that student writers strive to strengthen their vocabularies, but to also learn to express themselves using their own, coded language in order to bring uniqueness and authenticity to their writing. We discussed the four stages of vocabulary and the practice of moving new words up our ladders of knowledge, meaning that we want to move words that we don’t recognize up to the point that we can comfortably use them when we speak and write. The week before, I had highlighted words in Pablo Neruda’s piece, Poetry, and the 7th and 8th grade students quickly went about the business of annotating the definitions of those words. I am so here for that! On the 16th, we focused on narrative and metaphor, which both play with ideas about language and definition.

The 7th and 8th grade students and I compiled a list of the elements of narrative and ended up with a complete skeleton upon which to frame a narrative work. We briefly discussed dialogue and dialect before we read Langston Hughes’ Mother to Son. My upper classmen had prior knowledge of the work, so we drove through an analysis of the poem and discussed metaphor in detail. We had a fruitful discussion about Hughes’ mother’s comparison of life to a flight of stairs and highlighted many other ways life compares to stairs. I cited two popular songs, All the Way Up by Fat Joe and company, and Started from the Bottom by Drake, which speak of climbing and reaching heights in reference to life and success. They then wrote poems on the theme: A day in the life of a teenager…You can read those and the 6th graders’ poems on the same theme below.

The 6th graders and I did something a little different and engaged in a “Pow-Wow” where we compiled a bank of words that the students felt expressed what being a pre-teen/teen is like. There were words like puberty, maturity, silly, fun, responsibility and chores. The students incorporated some those words and themes into their works, and we will delve more into narrative in the coming weeks.

Overall, it was an exciting day and I was moved and pleased by their words and ideas that I am sharing here. I want to tell them all to hold onto this time for as long as they can, because “adulting”, on the nearest of horizons, sho nuf aint no crystal stair, but based on what I read, I think they already know. And I know that we all need to do more listening, instead.


6th Grade

Destiny W.



A life of a pre-teen is good because

I’m a bigger person

it takes some responsibility in my life

to do the things I’m doing now

I feel free

showing my littler siblings some leadership

so they do it too.

they’re going to have challenges

but they can do it because I did



Nijayla B.



Being a teenager

is exhausting because

when you’re a teenager

you have to provide

for your family and

also ownership because

you have to always

own up to things

to set an example

for little kids or your

siblings. You also have

to take your education

more seriously also being

a teenager you start getting

angry often.



Cherif H.



Becoming a

teenager comes

with great responsibilities

you have to make smart decisions.

You might start to get a little

lazier than you were when

you were younger. Your parents

will make you get a job.

You will start to have to buy

your own things. You will need

to stay in school and do

not drop out. You need your




Sequoya D.



Going through puberty

There’s no feeling

Babysitting is not

so fun but it is for

helping others out.

Responsibility is

crazy feels like it’s

a dream that I can’t

wake up from.

Chores, cooking

kids, money its all

for a reason. It teaches

you to take responsibility

for what you do. Leadership

is what I want,

excellence is my goal

life is a story that’s always going to be told.

education is what I’m going

to have. Don’t let others keep

you from meeting your goal.

7th Grade

 Rayonna Moses

 A day in the Life of a Teenager


A day when I first made

13 years old, that day I

felt special I felt like

I was a leader I felt like

a young adult ready to see

the real world to feel and

smell the glowing flowers

to seek and find what this

thing called life was. But

all I can think of another

Day laying in my bed thinking

about my next Birthday thinking

about what Being a teenager

is all about. I felt like being

a teenager is so much

responsibility and so much pressure

So I got on my knees

and prayed to be 12 again

but I knew that wasn’t going

to help so I just gave

up and thought about life

I thought about what

can it really stand for

but life is really not

a game and being an adult

is too much so I guess

staying a teen is the

best for me.


Briana C.

A day in the Life of a Teenager


Teenage life for me has

been bumpy. I mean nobody

told me it would get

this jumpy. There’s always

more bad days than good

ones, but I’ve been told it’ll

get better. I just need to

get it together. I work

hard to make my parents

proud, because my flight of

stairs are golden. I promise

not to let her down, because

I don’t’ want to see her

with a frown. So I’m going

to keep climbing until it gets

better. I know it will, I’ll

let it take time, like my mother

says “The farther the nickel the

better the dime.” Its worth

the wait!


Tamara C.

Being Myself


Being me is not so hard.

Being me is like falling stars.

Make a wish it will come true.

See I was born on December

25, 2003, since that day I have

been free. No going around asking

people can they get things for me.

I’m 12 right now. I’m going to be a

teen. A day in the life of a teenager

is alright with me. I want to get a

job, make money and get good grades

in school. I want to have a big celebration

so everyone knows that I have grown old

in my days of a kid. Achieve my goals

and just be me for me.



Aaron W.

 Life isn’t Easy


Life isn’t easy

Losing people

getting pushed around

thrown to the ground

Life isn’t easy

getting talked about

getting into fights

Showing and learning what’s right

Life isn’t easy

Walk up the stairs

Fall to the ground

get up and get pushed back down

Life isn’t easy

Throws curve balls

Sometimes you can’t hit them at all

Just don’t think and stay off the streets

Life isn’t easy

walk up the stairs

don’t give cares

So what if people like to stare

Life isn’t easy




 Tyrell G.

School Mornings


Wake up tired from a beautiful dream,

in your face and eyes is only the sun’s beam.duboisstudentsday2



Not even wanting to go to school today,

but mom and dad makes you do it anyway.

Go to the bathroom to brush your teeth

trying to get rid of the plaque and meat.



Get in the shower so mad and mean,

but then come out feeling great and clean.

Put on your clothes ready to go,

say goodbye to mom and dad, and come to

school saying to everyone hello.

8th Grade

Ashley A.



Being a teenager comes with

Responsibilities, Being a teenager

comes with happy and sad endings,

Making new friends and sometimes

letting them go, Being a teenager sometimes

comes with staying to yourself and

Not worrying about no one else,

Being a teenager comes with

hopes, dreams, and also goals,

Being a teenager is a major

part of your life because when

you get older you will sit back

and think about all that you

went through in life.


Erial M.



Being a teenager can be like a flower in the

sun. It can be happy when it grows and fall when

it’s not supported. You have to keep watering it

when it grows bigger, never should you not support

it, because then it will fall and won’t get back up.

Grow it, strong and well

Not leave it alone and fail.

Don’t rather have it dead than alive it’s like

Having a child growing to be 5.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.