When I think back to my first few introductions to poetry while growing up, I remember not wanting to have anything to do with it. I wasn’t interested in reading it or writing it. I was intimidated about what I thought it took to write a poem: a lot of rules. I didn’t get into reading and writing poetry until last year when I took a Writer’s Workshop course and expanded my knowledge on the subject. While remembering my feelings when I was young, I assumed that the young children at Horace Mann might have the same beliefs about poetry that I did. Ah ha! A light bulb lit up inside my head; what a great teaching and learning opportunity this could be. I decided when it was my turn to lead an activity for the kids that I was going to encourage the children to take an interest in poetry and write some cool poems.
I started the day by introducing the activity and handing out the syllabus/guidance sheet that I made. I grabbed their attention by telling the class about the negative feelings I use to have about poetry when I was their age and that it wasn’t until last year that I began to enjoy reading and writing poetry. I asked them, “Who likes to read and write poems?” To my surprise, half of them raised their hands. Every single one of them was looking at me with their full attention. I was excited. As they followed along on the syllabus, I read the numerous prompts and examples for each. Then they went to work. It was their time to shine.
As I walked around the room, I shared some encouraging words, exchanged ideas with them, and listened to them chat about poems with their classmates. They were fully engrossed in the activity. Yippee for me! What a great feeling! It was quiet: a good 5 minutes of pure silence. I stood back and took in the moment. Looking around the classroom, I saw all of the children with their heads down, pencil to the paper, writing away. I witnessed the children writing many different kinds of poems by themselves and enjoying doing so.
Near the end of the activity, a few children shared their pieces with the class. I was thrilled by the enthusiasm they had while writing their poems and also having the bravery to share them with their peers. I felt successful knowing that I may have been the person who inspired these children to develop positive views about poetry.