Years ago as a teacher, I loved that my students thought of me as some kind of poetry guru. I used to stand behind my lectern and throw questions at them about poems. When they didn’t “get it,” it wasn’t for my lack of passion or my pedagogical know-how. It was that they needed me to lead them, to model for them how to make meaning the way I did. As a result, I cared about students being able to recall how I led them through individual poems in class. I cared that they, too, if called upon by some personal conviction, should want to go on to toil away and write poems. And if, sometime far into the future, they happened to credit me with being the one who led them to Poetry, I would “humbly” accept their gratitude.
However, I often became frustrated with them and their lack of an ability to see what I saw. I showed them this frustration. They wanted to please me, so they worked harder, soaking up more of me and more of my own reading of poems. They became less like students and more like little Slaby disciples who learned a little about Poetry. Notice how many “I”s I’ve used? A decade ago teaching my students about Poetry was much more about me than it was about my students’ learning.
However, after fifteen years in the classroom, I’m happy to write that today:
- I care deeply and passionately that all of my students understand what poems are.
- I care that they develop their abilities to notice what is there on the page.
- I care that my students can consistently notice the language levels in any poem they encounter, and that they can make ideas about these levels’ relationships with one another.
Overall, I am a better teacher because I care about my students being able to say confidently and competently for themselves, “I notice” Poetry for what it is!
This is why I’ve spent years refining the “I Notice” method/pedagogy so that it works in the classroom and can be shared among educators who also care about helping students become more confident and competent readers of poems.
Here’s what it does:
- It provides a method of immersing oneself in language.
- It helps readers practice “noticing” on their own.
- As a result, it helps readers experience Poetry itself.
So please check it out, and try it for yourself. After doing so, if you’re going to give credit to anyone, give credit to yourself for slowing down, for immersing yourself in language, and for experiencing Poetry. You deserve it!