As part of a final synthesizing assignment in one of my grad school classes, three of my classmates and I were tasked with creating a slam poem inspired by and modeled after “What Teachers Make” by Taylor Mali (I’d say the best slam poem around):
We didn’t really have any good ideas. A groupmate pulled open a dictionary and started choosing random words (such as “hydrogenate,” “primp,” and “transmit”) that we would, hopefully, incorporate.
Then, I scribbled down three letters: K, W, and L. K stands for “What I Know”, W stands for “What I Want to Know” and L stands for “What I Learned.” Every good teacher knows that the KWL chart is a graphic organizer used to help structure a student’ understandings by (a) activating prior knowledge, (b) setting a purpose for learning and (c) describing what was learnt.
We decided to create one quatrain for each part of the KWL. We decided on introductory and concluding tercets. After laying out our poem’s structure we “spat” rhymes. The process, despite beginning slowly, ended quickly, taking a minute or so. This shows that when people write, all it often takes is one spark (in this instance, three letters) to set things in motion. Here is our product:
by Ms. W, Ms. V, Ms. FB, Mr. K
I want to know.
I know teaching’s hard,
I know the kids are far behind,
I know the challenges I face,
I know it pays to be kind.
I want to change their world,
I want to open their eyes,
I want them to learn how to learn,
to keep their eyes on the prize.
I learned how far I could be pushed,
I learned to hold back tears,
I learned to keep my cool,
I learned to face my fears.
I know I am a champion.
I want to be a champion.
I learned to be a champion.
I haven’t done a good job of writing lately. I feel pressed for time since the end of the year is so darn close–too much to do and not enough time to do it in. I have many ideas that are on my blog backlog. They will show up eventually. In the meantime, it is Teacher Appreciation Week. Go out and say hello to a teacher!