As a high school teacher for 23 years, I was always making room for poetry in the classroom. It is just necessary in every way, yet it often gets ignored beyond elementary school. Teachers sometimes say that they don’t “get” poetry or that they know they don’t spend enough time on it. But “getting” poetry is not necessary–providing an atmosphere in the classroom where poetry can thrive is.
So it doesn’t really matter how many poetry exercises I could post on this page–if you don’t have a poetry-friendly classroom (which includes a poetry-friendly mindset), you probably won’t be successful with poetry in it.
Please don’t let that happen. Poetry is worth it. There is a reason it was our first literary art.
What is the best incentive for having a poetry-friendly classroom? You will touch the lives of people who approach you in your old age at garage sales and tell you that you changed their lives for the better, and what they remember is the poetry experiences in your classroom. It has happened to me . . . many times–not always at garage sales.
The Poetry Friendly Classroom
1. Get out of it (the classroom).
2. Look for poetry everywhere.
3. Fall in love with words.
4. Connect it to art.
5. Spread it through the school . . . and beyond.
6. Make it a competition.
7. Find the story in it.
8. Bring in lovers of poetry.
9. Focus on the sound.
10. Take poetry trips.
11. Be wrong. Be stupid. Be real.
12. Give up your ownership.