Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hippie Teacher

Tonight I got to be the hippie teacher of my dreams! If only for an hour I had my perfect job, which married these three things:
  • Working with youth
  • Teaching writing
  • Working outdoors
For three weeks now I've been tutoring Gannon, an 8th grader at Parkside Middle School, in writing and spelling. He's a distant cousin of mine and so far we've been having a wonderful time learning together. 

In place of the lesson I had planned for this week's session Gannon asked me to help him with a poetry writing assignment he had for English class. I was more than happy to shift my plans and help him with his poetry project. 

The poem was due the following day and he hadn't begun. Basically all that was required was to write a poem. Only having an hour and not knowing exactly how much he had learned about poetry, I had to be quick on my feet. Gannon had no idea what to write a poem about. I started by explaining that people write poetry about things that they like, things that move them. That poetry is full of feeling and unseen meaning. I asked him to write a quick list of things he likes on paper. Pizza, ice cream, and baseball were among the few. I asked him if he liked nature, he replied "yes...I guess."

Knowing what inspires me to write poetry I instructed him to follow me into his backyard. It was a beautiful, warm evening and his backyard was very conducive of writing poetry. As we entered the grass I told him to take his socks off, to walk barefoot. We grabbed a seat on the ground when I told him to close his eyes. I told him to listen and try to take in everything that was happening around him and to write down everything he noticed, whether sights, sounds, or smells. 

Once we basted in our outdoor moment for a while we shared our observations. Be both happened to share that it sounded like we were in a rainforest (creative minds think the same.) Afterward, we went up to the deck to try and make poetry out of our observations. We both worked quietly on our respective poems for a while. When Gannon said he was done, we shared. 

Gannon is very creative. I can tell he enjoys writing, I just don't think he's been challenged to do it much in the past. He did extremely well with this exercise. With his creative frame work and a few more suggestions from me he crafted a lovely poem titled "A Walk in My Backyard."