Slice of Life, Chapter 14

(This is part of the Slice of Life Project)

I was so much more of a writer than a teacher yesterday. What a great feeling.

After my students finished up presenting their expository paragraphs on “how to do … something” (ranging from how to play Guitar Hero to how to start a zoo to how to draw a cow to how to avoid joining a gang), we entered into freewrite time. The instructions? Just write. Write whatever you want, in whatever genre you want, on whatever topic you want. Just write.

The room was so quiet. And I was right there with them, sitting amidst their desks with my notebook open and pen in hand, scribbling away. Gosh, I wish every day could be like that. We didn’t share (OK. I miss that doorway into their private universe but I am willing to give that up once in a while in exchange for what was happening right then and there). We didn’t revise. We didn’t talk. All we did was write.

And so, I present the poems that I wrote over the course of the day. They are still sort of rough, but they can go into my bin of poems that were formed during my OnePoemEveryMonthforaYear project.

First, I wrote a serious poem as I watched my students in the act and I thought about the quiet revolution going on in my classroom.

Entering into Freewrite
Listen to the poem as podcast
I’m listening to pens – the words have no sound –
It’s all thoughts on the page.
These quiet moments are delicate pockets of complete freedom,
encouraging composition of poems, stories, plays, songs
and even comics –
They write with heads bowed and eyes focused;
Some move lips to mouth the words;
A silent incantation springing forth from mind to paper and back again.
I move among them as a ghost – a spiritual companion –
writing my own poem about them, writing,
in a sort of tacit recognition that what they do here has meaning,
even if the only eyes ever to read their words are their own,
and only their own.
We move on this journey, together,
as writers.

Then, I wrote these haikus. I am calling them, ahem, Haikus Inside the Classroom. I was really thinking about some of my individual students as I wrote and also about the classroom atmosphere.

Haikus Inside the Classroom
Listen to the poem as podcast

Ink never runs dry
when dipped in wonder and joy
…the silent boy dreams

She’s thinking of home;
A family of cold winter
That shivers her bones

Outside noise comes in
on a wave of disruption
and they ride it hard

Syllables slip by
eluding capture, escape
beyond my fingers

If I could sing songs
I’d sing in celebration
0f every writer

Finally, I wrote this poem about Quidditch (see yesterday’s post) in a humorous mood. I was thinking along the lines of James Prelutsky, I think. Just a version of the couplet.

This Game We Play
Listen to the poem as podcast

If every day was Quidditch, this place would be a mess
There’d be kids up on the ceilings and we’d have no need for desks
There’d be quaffles in the kitchen; There’d be snitches in the air
There’d be bludgers in the hallways and we really wouldn’t care
‘cause the game we play called Quidditch is all about the team
It’s a bevy of excitement (just listen to them scream)
You could say we might go crazy; you could say we’ll lose our minds
But I tell you, ever truthful, it’s an exhilarating time.

Peace (in poetry),

PS — I stumbled on this fantastic poetry site called Poetry Archive, where famous and not-so-famous poets are reading their own poems. Here, for example, is one from the wonderful Billy Collins, reading his poem to his reader called “You, Reader.”

  1. What a perfect and inspiring writing day! I love your poem about Quidditch! You are so lucky to have a PE teacher that supports the kids learning and passions in a fun way!

  2. I’m back in my rhythm. And I am thrilled to see a bunch of lovely pieces to return to here when I get back from observing my student teacher.

  3. Kevin, this is so wonderful! I love how into the freewriting your students are, and I’m sure the experience for them is that much more meaningful because they can see that you’re writing, too. I love your poems and the quite scary (for me) idea of a poem every month for a year. I’m clicking over to that link in a second.

    Thanks for sharing this excellent slice.

  4. Wonderful!
    The poems are GREAT!
    Can I be a student in your class?? I reflect on my writing experience in school the only year we were writers was grade 6, with my favorite teacher Miss. Franklin. I cannot wait to be the teacher/writer like you have shown here.

    Good luck with Baseball. You have a LONG season. By November we are back at the rink with hockey and skating…too much snow to play anymore ball.

    Have a great day.

  5. Kevin- totally, totally, wholly, completely, (did I mention I totally) enjoyed this post. Each poem sounded great read aloud and a link to Charmin’ Billy. Almost too much for one day. Thank you for this delicious slice of life. Good on ya’

  6. I’m back with time to read and listen. Haikus. You blow me away. And the first poem, I have walked in your shoes in the days of my teaching. Really amazing, your bursts of creativity.
    I’m glad I know you,teacher!

  7. I appreciate the replies and the feedback.
    Something about this batch of poems has me proud — as if I captured something that prose would not, or could not, do.
    I am glad to share them with you, my friends.

  8. Wow. What an amazing teacher you are. You have students in your class that will be remembering you in their old age I am sure. You should be proud of your of your poems, they are incredible.
    ~jane S

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