Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teacher Poets

Slice of Life Challenge
Please join the challenge over at Two Writing Teachers!

Joining the Teacher Poets Community has inspired me during a time when inspiration is hard to find. Chris Lehman invited teachers to write and share their poetry under his leadership. So many of us said, YES...and here we are a full fledged community writing and sharing poetry on Saturday mornings. 

Using Google Communities and Google Hangouts and Twitter to connect us is new for me. I love the technology! In real time we are sharing and writing and workshopping poetry together. There are only a handful of us on screen, but so many more watching and participating using twitter. The video is archived on Youtube and people can return to the video and the community to participate at a later date. 

It's there for our reference at a later time and we can share it with others. This makes me wonder how it can be used for professional development or with students. There are so many possibilities...

This past Saturday morning, it was my turn to share my writing. Nervous doesn't begin to explain how I was feeling while reading my poem! My hands were shaking and I felt so much emotion, I could barely contain it...what held me together was the trust I have in the group assembled. The people there wanted to help and guide and inspire...and they did. 

My poem is a raw, emotional description of what it's like to be single and childless...needless to say, personal and painful topics to address. I told Chris before we went live that I tried to write about less personal topics, but it never happens for me when I write poetry. Poetry goes to the soul of me...so I let it. 

Here's the poem...

At ten years old, I begged
Please! Mom PLEASE! I want a pair of Dr. Scholl’s…
just like everyone else! Everyone has them!
I finally got my red Dr. Scholls and they promptly
blistered my feet and caused me to trip & fall

My brown bagged lunch
sits in front of me in the teacher’s room,
reaching in I grab a vitamin water and my peanut butter sandwich.
As I peel back the silvery foil I hear, Did your husband make your lunch?
The foil rips and I smooth out the wrinkles,
Avoiding eye contact, I say
That would be remarkable...but I don’t have one.
The self deprecating laugh doesn’t hide the pain,
instead it shines a spotlight on it
I’m not like everyone else...
Another table, another day,
another question So do you have kids?
My breath catches as I imagine saying Yes.
How I long to say yes…
and to tell stories of my kids and their antics,
to complain about no sleep and
shake my head while admitting that it’s all worth it…
Instead, I say No.
But it doesn’t tell the whole story…
The story of how I spent a year preparing to adopt a child
The story of how I came within weeks of adopting a precious little boy
or the pain of losing that child and coming away with nothing
ending where I began

Everyone has stories
And I used to want my stories
to sound like just everyone else
and to feel like just everyone else
to be like just everyone else
But now,
I appreciate my story

Once I read it, Chris explained how the feedback would work. It's a three step process...
First, compliments
Second, questions
Third, considerations

Here's some of the feedback: 

Sharing that poem with the world means exposing a tender part of myself and that's scary, but hearing how it touched people makes the fear disappear! Poetry connects us. Poetry inspires us. I will treasure the moments of this workshop forever. There are experiences that change our teaching and help us become better teachers, and then there are experiences that change us...as people...I believe that this is changing me. It's making me more brave. It's making me a better listener. It's encouraging me to write poetry. It's giving me the opportunity to connect with inspiring and talented teachers from around the world. 

Thank you, Chris...
for the inspiration, 
for the guidance, 
and for the poetry!


  1. Yes to your bravery, and the power of your words. Yes, to sharing it out, and then sharing it again here. Yes, to having poets as friends in all these different spaces.

  2. It's exciting to be learning together with others. Your role to participate publicly is so much bigger than watching and commenting. I applaud to your bravery.

  3. Michelle, your honesty and true emotion are such strengths of your writing. I can feel when I read your poems and your slices. This feeling has lead to connections. Keep writing and being open; you are a treasure! I wish I would have had a chance to participate in Teacher Poets. Youtube will be my great friend one of these weekends...

  4. Michele,
    Hearing you read your poem last Saturday brought tears to my eyes. The power of honesty and emotion are so clear in your poetry! Thank you so much for sharing then and now!

  5. Your longing to have what others have seems well balanced by the doctor scholl's stanza that those experiences can cause blisters. Keep your heart open.

  6. Poetry does expose our soul in ways other writing does not. I know we have to play the cards we are given, but it doesn't always seem fair. Thank you for sharing.

  7. You are so brave, Michelle! How wonderful it is that you were able to participate in this poetry class with the awesome Chris Lehmann. The class fell right smack in the middle of our spring break...so sad!

  8. I can hear your worry, but I also hear your triumph. Putting yourself out there is so doggone scary! But the return is rich. Your poem speaks of your truth but connects to all of us. Poetry does expose us, and yet it also heals us. I hope this experience heals your heart as well as enriches your teaching. Thanks for being such a brave soul.

  9. Hi Michelle, I went to bed last night thinking this exact same thing, how writing exposes us! Your poem is such a beautiful testament to living on our own terms! I, too, felt the societal pressures of having the "perfect" life, with a husband, a child, and a home. At 43, I only have one out of these three but I couldn't be happier! Thanks for sharing yourself with us :-) ~ Renae

  10. You are making me want to join in on Saturdays. I admire your bravery. I don't know that I could have put myself out there. Your words were beautiful- I could feel them inside me. I don't have children yet myself, and I am surrounded by friends who are finishing up their families. It's always hard. I hate the questions too. I think they make it worse. It's like a reminder of what you want but don't have. Thank you for so eloquently capturing this feeling. I love how real and raw you were. Most of all, I love how you end so upbeat and content with your situation.

    Thank you for sharing,


Please share your thoughts. I love comments!