|Nate performs his original poem|
|Parents seated for the poetry slam|
here) that the students requested to help keep them organized. Really. That's all I did.
When the students finished slam, took photos together, and hugged their parents goodbye, we debriefed. The feedback is always the same, yet still incredibly powerful: "I loved running the cafe!" "It was so fun to serve guests!" "This was just like real life!" "Performing was easier than I thought it would be!" Poetry, and by extension, The Poetry Cafe, offers students experiences they've never had before. They have the freedom and the opportunities to take charge, make decisions, and collaborate to make an event a success. The looks of pride and accomplishment across the faces of each and every one of my students were so great to behold. The post-slam confidence was palpable. Postures were straighter. Heads were held higher. And witnessing that was worth all the preparation and practice.
Poetry Cafe has evolved over the years, based on the needs of the students. Some years, the kids want to make the slideshow; this year, they didn't have enough time. I'll be sure to make time for that next year so the cafe has more of the students' visual stamp on it. Next year, I'd also like to have the students write their own "poet biographies," like the author bios we see on book jackets. We can incorporate them somewhere in the classroom or even in the program. Finally, I'd like to make more time for rehearsal. We had an entire morning for it, but some students could have benefited from more than one run-through.
While we teachers are always thinking of ways to be better, we also know that this experience is one of the most important that we give our students. It is worth the time, practice, and preparation to see it all come to fruition. Creating poetry teaches kids in a way that other writing genres can't. It's vital to upper-middle grade literacy, as a form of expression and communication for those students who might struggle with prose. Poetry can be a gateway to confidence as a writer, and I am grateful that we, as a team, see its necessity in our literacy curriculum.
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I am so grateful for the wonderful crew at Two Writing Teachers for allowing me a space to share my Slice of Life.