The majority of my students come from low-income backgrounds. Their school is one hundred percent free and reduced-price lunch. As their English teacher, my goal is to help these wonderful freshmen discover the joy of reading and the writer that is inside each and every one of them.
Last semester, I bought strands of lights and hung them around the room, to "create the vibe" as one my students described, and arranged the chairs in a circle with a stool in the middle. The next day, we had our class poetry reading. Each student took their turn in the middle and read one of their original poems that they wrote over the course of our poetry unit. All day, each of my students got to share their voice and listen to their peers share theirs. I got to sit back and listen as well, as my students were on task without me having to redirect them-- they wanted to hear each other, and they wanted to be heard as well.
Days like this remind me that it is imperative that my students realize the powerful impact that writing can have in their lives.
I do not want to miss any opportunity for them to engage with writing and express their thoughts and feelings in a way that's constructive and possibly therapeutic for them. Next year, I would like to provide class journals for my students because I believe that writing is a much-needed practice in their lives.
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