It’s been an interesting two weeks.
The new semester began the second week of February, which ultimately meant the conclusion of my first semester poetry class. That class was special. It became a family. Before Winter Break, we did a “secret snowflake poetry exchange” where EVERY SINGLE STUDENT wrote a poem for another classmate. My seniors wrote poems to freshmen, bestowing their knowledge and letting them know how beautiful they were, inside and out. My freshmen wrote poems back, thanking them for making them feel valued in the shark tank known as high school. We went on a field trip. We grew as a family. Hearts were stomped on, mended, broken, and held gingerly in our class. This group of students was an amazing group that I’ll probably only have once in a lifetime.
It’s been tough to accept the loss of this class while still trying to be open minded to my second semester poetry class.
This group isn’t my first semester class. Then again, neither was my first semester class 2 weeks into the school year.
With the combination of snow days, long weekends, and a rotating block schedule, I have only seen this class a few times. Students are still in the add/drop period for their second semester courses, and the class roster changes on the daily. It’s tough to build a relationship with inconsistency, especially when the schedule is filled with uncertainty.
Yesterday was a rough one. For whatever reason, the class was in a special state of excitement over it being Friday. They just came from lunch. Half the class walked in 10 minutes late. Hormones were raging and drama was flying. I gave up trying to share notes on breaking down poetry, and instead dispersed a handout with explanations of figurative language on them. I told the class they were having a free write where they could write about anything– yes, anything— as long as they incorporated 5 of the 8 types of figurative language into their poems.
Then, I broke out the poetry ball.
The poetry ball is a giant plastic toy capsule, like the ones you find in a vending machine with dinky toys, only this one is the size of a cantaloupe. It’s filled with different writing topics my students have written down, ranging from “iphone addiction” to “family members in jail.”
This class hadn’t used the poetry ball yet.
Oddly enough, having the freedom to write whatever they wanted about topics created by people their own age got every single student to be quiet and write. Some even groaned when I made them stop writing so we could put the room back together. (I try to lead my poetry class in a circle.) They wrote beautifully. Even the most difficult of students–students I had warned were one step away from getting a phone call home– wrote lines upon lines of beauty.
They have promise.
As long as I remember to open my heart to their promise and lives, we can have promise together.