Several months ago I offered to do a workshop on Teaching Poetry to English Language Learners in April. April was far enough away that I felt I would have time to prepare for this event. I haven’t officially been a teacher for over a year and a half now, since my retirement, so I am a little nervous.
So what am I nervous about? Am I still relevant? Is what I have to say still relevant? How will the younger teachers take to a retired teacher leading the workshop? Do I have the stamina to do this? Will this be possible to do without recent classroom contact with kids?
I know this is all mostly nonsense. You can’t have taught for twenty-two plus years and not be able to still teach. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.
I’ve also been talking to myself about what it means to offer a workshop. For me it means I have some experience I wish to share and I think there’s an audience for what I have to say. I know that mainstream teachers are struggling with the demands of the Common Core, and in addition are now expected to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in their classrooms who have moved beyond Beginner English. I think I have some good ideas to offer them about effective strategies to use with ELLs.
Going through some random notes I’ve taken over the years, I was reminded that it’s helpful to create a mission statement for myself so I am clear about what I plan to do. After several weeks of ruminating about this workshop, I now feel I finally have a focus. It is not just about teaching poetry to English Language Learners; it’s also about supporting the teachers struggling with this mandate.
I am a global thinker, I must first brainstorm for several weeks about everything tangential to the topic (teaching poetry to ELLs); then I know I must rein myself in. That time has come. So with a purpose in mind, I must now do the work of scaffolding the presentation.
Do you read poetry? Do you include teaching poetry in your curriculum? Do you enjoy teaching poetry? What are the challenges for you of teaching poetry to your students? I’d love to hear your thoughts….