Thursday, March 12, 2015

Teaching in Heaven

Day 12 of 31 posts for the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by the team at Two Writing TeachersStaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and BethHead over to the link up for seconds or to serve up your own slice!

When I teach in heaven poets, authors, thinkers, and educators will spend the night at my house. We'll share a meal and talk big ideas over dinner.  We will laugh and share book titles. We dally at the table over ideas and friendship through the gloaming time and into darkness we will smile and think about the school day we'll have together. 

When I teach in heaven poets, authors, thinkers and educators will step off of the page and into our classroom. Regularly. Because we'll be there, together, and our ideas and passions will seek like company and youth. Students will sit so still and soak up the light of ideas that we'll marvel at the beauty of engagement. 

When I teach in heaven we will talk together. We will walk together. We will write together. We will read and we will share and we will find joy in the community of knowing and creating the everything and anything around us. 

Today was a little slice of heaven in my classroom. Author of more than twenty books, fifteen of them collections of poems for young people, Sara Holbrook spent the day in my classroom. She stepped in and out of poetry and story. She led students through writing pieces and performance. She sat and listened long to my youth poets who compete in Poetry Slams. She coached and cared. 

Sara has a new book coming out soon, poems From the Park Bench--conversations between or just in between ordinary people she encountered in her work at the housing authority. She shared poems
 from the book with students and talked about setting up a site where students can share and post their own poems (and media--video, images) from the park bench. How cool is that? I couldn't help thinking about the sequence I could plan to support student writers. First up, espionage. Eavesdropping. Observation to use the polite term. Listen in at the lunch table, band rehearsal, debate tournament, tennis match or spring game--note the stories and see. Then write, imagine, capture and pair words and images. Definitely a looking-forward to project this spring.

Sara shared stories today from her travels (Uganda, Sudan and Zambi last week) and she shared her origin story and stories of challenge and hope. She performed poems. 

 and exercised our P.I.P.E.S.: projection, inflection, pacing, eye contact and stance. 

We wrote with her and shared. I loved the sequence of quick snapshot poems we wrote. We'll revisit those this week and next and see how the seeds of poetry she planted have grown. 

I wish I'd taken more pictures, but I got sucked in, to Sara's art and lesson and voice and lines. I breathed her in--all day. I am in-spired. Amazed. Thankful.

When I teach in heaven, you will be in my classroom too. I won't have to write about it for you to be there, you just will. See. Hear. It will be poetry will all of the feels (as the kids say) and our creative energies and amazing students will mix and mash and become something that is, for now,  just out of reach.


  1. Oh this truly sounds heavenly!!! Thank you for a glimpse into your classroom. What a beautiful day it must have been!!!!

  2. Love her and you! I also like the idea of what teaching would be like "in heaven." (WWW Erin)

  3. Wow - talk about a heavenly day! I can see that your kids would be completely engaged in Sara's work and the world she's traveled in. So enriching.

  4. I heard her speak once and now own several of her books. One more coincidence -- just today I had my students writing poems based on an idea I read in one of her books. Oh! To have her in my class in person. That would be heaven!

  5. I love the way you started this and repeated "When I teach in heaven..." for three paragraphs. Your heavenly classroom does sound majestic, as does having Sara in your classroom today!

  6. Ah! Heaven IS a place on earth--sometimes. Glad you had a slice of heaven today. Glad you shared heaven w/ us, too.

  7. What an amazing day! Truly inspiring! No wonder your students were engaged and still wanting to write in heaven!

  8. Your classroom is a haven of creativity and trust -- anyone and everyone feels special when entering. I loved how the kids just went with whatever we did, experimenting and risk taking. That doesn't happen in a single day, that is what they are used to. Lucky me to be able to join you and I can't wait to see what the writer/performers in your classes come up with in response to the new book. love,