#TeacherPoets Session One

#TeacherPoets Session One

by Christopher Lehman (@iChrisLehman), The Educator Collaborative Founding Director


Hi TeacherPoets!

I’m so excited for another season!  We’ve got a new cohort together that I can’t wait for you to meet, and we may have a few of our friends from last cohort stopping by as guests.

#TeacherPoets is an adult writing workshop. While we can learn a lot about teaching writing by writing, these sessions are not focused on teaching writing to children but instead are an opportunity for us to write for ourselves.

Because of this, please not that sometimes mentor poems we choose, or poems written by our cohort members, may or may not be appropriate for you to share with your students. We leave that decision up to you.


Our first live session of the season is this Saturday (4/11) from 11:00-noon EST. Join our Google+ page to join in the conversation that has already started. Then tune in to the live stream this Saturday from that page (or the direct stream below), tweet along to interact with us using #TeacherPoets, and to catch weekly “writing assignments” that will be posted here on our new The Educator Collaborative Community Blog!


I’ve fallen behind this week (flu, boo) but for the next three weeks on Wednesday(-ish) I’ll post the new assignment. These are invitations to engage with poetry and our work together.  Take on as much or as little as you’re able.

Assignment for Week 1: Tell Is Like It Is

During our first live streaming session we will talk about just saying it already. How part of writing poetry is being brave for ourselves but a larger part is being clear for our readers.

We will do a writing exercise together where we practice being super clear and then making purposeful choices when to craft our message and when to leave it blunt.

 A Writing Invitation:

  • Starting next week these invitations will be specifically about writing poems. For this week your invitation is to respond to this question: “Where do you find inspiration to write?”  Please leave your response on our TeacherPoets Google+ page.

Mentor poems to read:

  1. A Weakness for Boleros by Lidia Torres, whose exact recounting of being ten and swaying to romantic music makes you feel instantly nostalgic for your first stirrings of love
  2. Skater by Ted Kooser, that never hides it’s subject and then just kills you with it’s last line
  3. You’re invited to post on our TeacherPoets Google+ page links to other poems that don’t hide behind mystery and yet are gorgeous and inventive

Workshopping This Week:

Starting next week, original poem’s from our Live Group educators (the folks on camera with me) will be posted in this section. As practice, this Saturday we will “workshop” this poem by a professional poet.

  • Please follow the link and print out this poem (or download a mark-up-able copy to your device):
  • Read and write all over it, prepare comments as if you were talking to this poet:
    • Compliments: Which parts were particularly strong to you? Why? How did it effect you as a reader? Where were you delighted? Happily surprised? Moved? And so on.
    • Questions: Where did you find yourself confused? Lost? Where did your reading become choppy or confused? Which points did you want a little bit more? A little less?
    • ConsiderationsWe can’t write the poem, that is the poet’s task, however we can raise considerations: I wonder if there are actually two poems here…  I wonder if we could hear more from… I wonder if the second stanza could… I wonder…
  • On Saturday we will then practice “workshopping” this poem, so bring your written-all-over copy.

If you would like to read an example of responding to a poem through “workshopping,” then read (or listen to) Workshop by Billy Collins (in which he workshops his own poem as he’s writing/reading it… it’s pretty funny stuff.).

Happy reading! Happy writing! See you Saturday!

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