SoDak it Hurts

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 06 2011

Sleeping On The Couch: Stories of Community

Last year, teachers gathered together to discuss What It Takes To Begin.

This year, my students have been working toward the goal of telling their story.

This spring, teachers from the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations will gather again to share our ideas on Community in the collection: Sleeping On The Couch: Stories of Community.

We’ve received twenty submissions from teachers in all grades and subject areas reflecting what Community means to them and how they see it manifesting in their lives and classrooms.

The reading will be this evening at my house in Mission beginning at 8:00pm – poetry, prose and song will drive our discussion.

Below is the introduction to the ‘Zine:

I think it was when the second air mattress slowly deflated under his resting bodyweight that he moved to the couch. At that time, we had a floral three-seater in the living room named ‘Rachel’ that he began to utilize. I never knew why he didn’t just go buy a bed – or at least another air mattress. Moreover, I can’t explain what drove me out of my big boy room with a space heater, coordinated bed linens and framed pictures to the cavernous rectangle of our living room. But, there I slept – a few nights a week.

Gradually, the two of us would ready for bed, brush our teeth, finish an email and commence the nightly march with blankets and pillows in tow to our communal sleeping space. Deep into the winter, the blankets and pillows just stayed. This is where we slept. We never talked about it – there was never an organized effort to bring this behavior into existence, it just found its way into our lives. From the couches, we’d rise before dawn and wordlessly make coffee, open up the laptops and get back to work.

About the time the sun starts to burn in the tree across the street, we’d be dressed, packed and, shoulder-to-shoulder, finish the last sips of our coffee while looking out the window – with this burgeoning brotherhood between us. This was community – two grown men doing life together while engaged in some sort of perpetual slumber party. And I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that’s what kept me alive for two years on the prairie.

We’ve all got them – a community we are replenished by, challenged by, indebted to. Mine is rooted deep in the cushions of two couches in a blue house in Mission, South Dakota. In the following pages poetry, prose and song reveal what others believe and feel about the unnamable connection we tap into in order to be human, in order to stay alive – in order to Tell Our Story.

April 2011

2 Responses

  1. Nathanael

    For this reason I never felt like I was taking your bed when we came to visit. Wish I could have been there to hear the celebration of community you and the other TFA teachers have forged over the past two years.

  2. Katy

    Beautifully written. I wish I could have a copy of the writings, I’m going to be studying Multicultural issues in psychology in grad school, and it would be interesting to read about the perpective of teachers that have lived and worked on a reservation.

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About this Blog

I taught 10th Grade English on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota between 2009 and 2011. Currently blogging at

South Dakota
High School

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