Sunday, November 21, 2004

Day 5: Final Class Meeting

You're a Poet and You Didn't Know It is officially over. Grades are turned in and the students have taken their work home. Overall, I would say this was definitely a positive experience for me, and I'm looking forward to more teaching! (Now I just have to work on preparing for 10th grade Language Arts and Journalism; I have a lot to say about that, but I'll save it for a rainy day when I have less to write about!)

We started the class by having them finish revising the poem we workshopped on Thursday. They're definitely still in the stage of not wanting to have their poems changed--they think it's perfect as is. This is understandable; it's difficult to revise any poem so soon after writing it. They're also such young writers, too, and I think if I redid this class, I would focus more on the process of revision and editing. We talked about getting published, and I gave them handouts from the 2:25 PM website. This has good places where the students can send in their poems and tips against getting scammed. We switched gears and finished the class with spoken word. Mandy had them each read a poem ("We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks was an example) and then listen to her reading the poem aloud. The first group thought they read it "way better" and someone asked if she was old! The second group thought it sounded really great. The kids also got into "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." In the first group, one girl said she didn't want to go to the next class--she just wanted to stay and listen. One of the girls from the second group asked what the line meant, " The revolution will not go better with coke." Jill, one of the Ph.D students working with us and doing observations, was in the room when the question was asked--we all kind of looked at each other and Mandy said, "Well, you have to think about the era that the poem is written in. Often there are a lot of references to the culture that we don't understand. See all the names in there? That's a lot of what's going on right then." I thought it was a pretty good save, considering. The second group had enough time to do their own poetry reading, so Mandy and I made comments about the positive moments and changes in their poems. If we had time, we would do as Jill suggested and have the students write down comments for each other--just a sentence or so in suggestion. Three of the students gave me a hug before they left and thanked me for the class. That's definitely going into my box!

Oh, in case that is confusing--my mother suggested keeping a box where you put all of the good things about teaching, so that when you have a bad day (or a bad moment), you can look into that box and remember all the reasons why you're teaching. I'm probably going to put a revised poem in there from another student; she really put a lot of work into it and it was so powerful when she read it out loud (she wrote about judging people and racial background). A lot of what happened at Crosswinds will definitely go into this box! I wish I had saved the letters of recommendation my old teachers wrote for me for entrance into the graduate program. That would have been ideal for starting the box.

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