Poetry is not the assertion that something is true, but the making of that truth more fully real to us.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does a poet teacher do differently than a classroom teacher?
Poet teachers bring a perspective to student writing that transcends the “nuts and bolts” of academic writing and focuses on the rewards of open, creative, non-linear thoughts, feelings, and expression. Their active interest and involvement in the greater world of poetry is conveyed to students through a depth of knowledge in the subject matter, a sense of excitement in the exploration of themes, and lesson plans that are always changing and evolving. As visiting teachers, they are able to engage students’ attention in the subject matter in a special way. They are able to take the time to read each student’s poem every week and to respond to it in writing, as well as to type up students’ poems as a form of classroom “publishing.” Finally, poet teachers are experienced in the verbal presentation of poetry and are able to involve the students as fellow artists willing to share their unique, and sometimes sensitive, thoughts and feelings.
2. What are the benefits of having a professional poet in the classroom?
By bringing their experience as published writers who are actively involved in the local community of poets, poet-teachers inspire students. The poems chosen for classroom discussion are wide-ranging both historically and culturally. In particular, poets often introduce contemporary and non-Western poetry that is usually unfamiliar to the classroom teacher. Finally, poets regularly share their own work with students, providing an example of both the product and the process of creative writing.
3. What educational standards does the program address?
The relevant standards for the State of California are found in the California English Language Arts Contents Standards. Detailed information for each grade level can be found on-line. Poets in the Schools address a variety of the standards. The following third grade standards give an inkling of the scope and breadth of the poet’s influence:
Vocabulary and concept development
Knowledge of literary terms and elements
Recognizing similarities of sounds and rhythmic patterns as in alliteration and onomatopoeia
Identifying the speaker or narrator
Writing descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things or experiences
Comprehension of oral communication
Planning and presenting poems using clear diction, pitch, tempo and tone
4. How much does it cost?
Currently, each hour spent in the classroom is billed at $75.00. We do not charge separately for the considerable time spent arranging residencies, preparing lessons, reading and responding to papers, typing student work in poetic form, and traveling to and from each school.
5. Can children get their poems published?
Our students’ poems are often chosen for the yearly, state-wide anthology published by California Poets in the Schools. In addition, students’ work has been published in both the Santa Barbara News Press and The Independent. Classroom teachers often use the result of our work with their students to publish in-class anthologies. In addition, an opportunity for students to publish on our website is upcoming.
6. How do we get a poet teacher to come to our school?
Generally, poets are happy to present information about the program, including examples of student work, to principals, teachers and parent/teacher organizations. At present, funding is provided by PTAs or interested individuals. SBPT is also currently exploring other funding alternatives. Contact the current area coordinator, Christine Kravetz, for details. See “Contact Information.”
7. Is Teacher In-Service Training available?
Yes! Poet-teachers are happy to share their knowledge and love of poetry and the teaching of poetry with classroom teachers. Again, contact our area coordinator for details.