I’ve spend almost four months with my spring semester students. We’ve gathered three times each week. We’ve talked about books; we’ve shared food and poetry and personal reflections. We’ve become a community who encourage and support each other. We’ve bonded.
One of my favorite moments of the semester was the first time we wrote a poem together. I’d warned the students that I wanted to try writing a collaborative poem, and some of them had given me scared looks. Slam Poet, who had wowed us all with a poem the week before, grinned and said, “Oh, yeah.”
During the class, we were talking about environmental issues and body image, and the connection between the two. Then suddenly, I felt that the energy in the room was right. I said, “Wait! I think it’s time.” I handed each student an index card and told them to write a line of poetry.
It took only a few minutes – each student wrote a line or two, and then we shuffled the cards together and read them aloud. It took only a few minutes — but the result was amazing. Somehow, during the discussion, our minds had all gotten into sync and the poem was both coherent and meaningful.
“We totally rock,” said Slam Poet. And everyone in the room agreed with her.
That chemistry is one of the things I love about teaching, the magic that happens when you take a random group of humans and put them together in a room with the common goal of learning from each other. That chemistry is also what makes me a little sad every time a semester ends.