Today was one of those days in my classroom that teachers can only hope for. As we’ve begun to view poetry, I finally fall into my groove of the most enjoyable part of the whole school year. Teaching poetry is my favorite thing of the entire year. Although my favorite part in our exploration of poetry doesn’t come in reading it, it comes in writing it.
I don’t consider myself a poet. Yet if you had asked twelve-year-old me, I probably would have said I would love to be a poet one day. As I grew older, I realized it was a lofty dream because I wasn’t any good. (If you’re wondering: I still do write poetry.) I write with my students every school year, and I never grow any more confident in my poetry writing skills. I’m not upset about it; I’ve just chalked it up to something I’m not very good at doing. Yet every year, I’m overwhelmed by my students’ abilities. The funniest part about it is today when I asked them how they felt about poetry most of them said: “it’s boring,” “I never know what to write about,” or “I just don’t understand it.” What they have no idea is how talented they truly are.
I collected the poems they wrote yesterday: a self-reflective poem talking about where they’ve come from and where they’ll go. As two of the lines start “I dream” and “I hope,” I found that most of the treasures in their talents lie in these lines. It’s not only that these students have the ability to write quality poetry, but also these lines expose their wishes for the future. I’m yet again reminded how special and unique my job is in that I’m getting the smallest glimpse of the future.
Ten year old me wanted to be a marine biologist. Twelve year old me said I wanted to be a poet. Fourteen year old me wanted to be a math professor. I’m none of those things now, but do you know how many teachers got to see a glimpse of me in the future back in the fourth, sixth, and eighth grades? And now… that’s me: I’m the teacher. Just a few days ago I received an email from my tenth grade English expressing how she “wasn’t surprised at all” that I’ve become the teacher that I am today. But how did she know when I was sixteen years old?
Now, I understand. In small rare moments, like one’s I experienced today in my classroom, do I realize that I get a vision for the future.
So what did my students write in those two lines of poetry?
“I dream of becoming a pediatrician.”
“I hope I’ll become an archeologist.”
“I hope to go to Penn State University.”
“I dream of working as a psychologist.”
“I hope to go to the International Space Station.”
“I hope to travel all over the world.”
“I dream of becoming a teacher.”
I hope and dream every single one of their wishes come true.
I am back: here with fingers tapping fervently away.
Here's the truth about my absence: I struggle with keeping these things alive. It's not just virtual blogs, but notebooks and journals too. It isn't the first time I took a sabbatical from writing and found some other less meaningful way to spend my time. Recently, it dawned onto me as to why I can't stick it out. I think it comes back to the idea that I often feel that what I have to say doesn't really matter, and that these thoughts that I record here (both literally and figuratively) are indeed useless.
This has been something I've been contemplating for some time. While yes, the majority of my thoughts are probably useless, they are still a part of me, and should that not be granted as something unique and special? I'm not trying to say that my thoughts are in any way more important than anyone else's. But what I am trying to say is that we all have these thoughts, and while it's good that some stay locked in forever, it shouldn't be so embarrassing to share some of the gems that try to surface. Here's my problem, here's our problem as a people: we are afraid of what others will say. I consider myself a strong and independent person, but I absolutely still have moments where I'm nervous or hesitant to share my thoughts, and why? Fear? Rejection? Animosity? All of the above.
So let me explain why and how I'm back here, writing anxiously again, already questioning whether or not I should post this back onto social media and await the responses of my peers.
I've been writing A LOT recently. And when I say a lot, I do actually mean A LOT. I've written every day for the past twenty-seven days. They say it takes approximately twenty-one days for a habit to form. To be honest, I still don't feel like this whole writing business is habitual in any way. But to me, that's a good thing. Because each time I open up to a page in my journal, a part of me opens as well.
Here's what the past month has looked like for me:
However in the past twenty-seven days, I've learned a lot. For instance, I had almost forgot how much physical effort it took to write by hand anymore. I know that sounds silly, practically absurd, but I spend a vast amount of my time typing away feverishly and successfully with little mistakes. My brain moves quickly and my fingers are able to keep up on a keyboard. Writing by hand means you have to be comfortable, go slowly, and try not to make mistakes or your left with a scribbled mark. This whole writing process has alone taught me to just slow down. Yet I also learned that most of the time you're going to write crap and sometimes, in rare moments, you might hit a small spot of inspiration. The important thing is to keep writing.
In addition to the 642 Things to Write About, I've also been writing in a journal I got back at my birthday and didn't open until the end of December. You see, what I've found is that it's actually nice to write again for me and not just for the prompt. So while 642 allows me to address something specifically, I also get to record my daily thoughts in my journal.
"I have no special talent.