When I began teaching, I was afraid of poetry. My last memory of poetry was in high school. The professor read a poem, and then wanted to know what the poem meant. I didn’t raise my hand, but he called on me anyway. My heart was pounding, my brain froze, and my mouth whispered something that I can’t even remember. I only recall the class remained silent for an eternity, no one responded or nodded, and another student was called to give an opinion.
So… when it was time to teach poetry, I put it off, put it off, and put it off. Then, the week before testing I panicked. Reviewing my long-range plans I realized that I had successfully avoided teaching poetry until I was out of time.
I snuck into the library late one afternoon when no one was there and started pulling poetry books. As I pulled a Shel Silverstein book off the shelf, I started reciting aloud a poem I once loved, “Crowded Tub.” I’d spent so many years hating poetry that I forgot how much fun it was. Flipping through the pages I found other poems I had once loved.
I gathered my pile of books, checked them out, and my students and I spent the next week falling in love with poetry. I realized that I had made a HUGE mistake by not teaching it sooner. First, my students LOVED the poems. Second, the ones who HATED reading, loved reading poems. And third, we could cover tons of standards in one short poem.
My hatred of poetry quickly subsided, and poetry was no longer put off to the last minute. From then on, I began teaching poetry the first day of school.
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