One of my favorite activities with students when teaching English/language arts was found poetry. It motivated the full spectrum of students because it had all sorts of word play, and could connect it with all genres of reading. Reluctant readers could be asked to look at a page of text from the literature we were reading and simply list some of the favorite words they found on a page. Motivated readers could do the same and the activity leveled the reading and comprehension playing field as we shared words, strung them together to make meaning. Over the course of a chapter, students could take the words to create a free verse poem to try to capture an element of the story. It was a great entry-point for demystifying poetry, increasing class wide comfort for sharing, and segueing into discussion at large.
Another facet of found poetry for my classes was ‘poetry in the news’. We went through the same process to find favorite or interesting words using newspapers to create poems connecting with current events. It was an activity exposing students to journalism and they generally chose a wide enough range of articles for a cross-section of news and opinions to be covered. Today, with all the news sources out there making their way into our digital and print universe, I have found myself not reading as deeply or closely as I once did. I decided that I was going to begin slowing down with at least one source I read and attempt to thoughtfully process at least one article/opinion piece per edition of Education Week. The found poem developed this week follows along with the link to Principal Lisa Meade’s opinion piece, “A Principal Reflects on Two Years of Loss”, from the 1/12/22 edition of Education Week.
Things Educators Carry as Covid Carries On
A found poem by Gary Tirone
Found Poem from an opinion piece written by Lisa Meade entitled, A Principal Reflects on Two Years of Loss. Education week, Volume 41, Issue 18, January 12, 2022.
Tears suddenly filling my eyes.
Knowing leaders shouldn’t fall apart.
Even though I was doing just that
for the moment.
It took a short time
To stuff my feelings
Back to the pit
of my stomach.
Overcoming thoughts of inadequacy
To carry on the work in front of me.
My work is a calling
not a job.
Yet the job is the most difficult I’ve faced
In 29 years.
As it turns out, I’m not alone.
Many school leaders feel there’s nowhere to turn.
Nearly half the country’s principals plan
To leave their positions…according to a survey.
The emotional burdens these past two years
Bring yet additional burdens…
Constant adjustments of teacher and student schedules;
Expanding bus routes to allow for more spacing;
Wearing masks, but worse…
Dealing with mask wearing resistance;
Contact tracing has become…
A side hustle to help overworked nurses.
All tasks that eventually became manageable, But…
This is what has become unmanageable
Grace and forgiveness are scarce.
The stresses of mental health concerns for students, teachers, and leaders
Hopes for a semblance of a school routine have evaporated;
At least for the foreseeable future.
Staff shortages are rampant while students
Try to recapture social and organizational skills
They once had
Before multiple months of remote isolation.
Pervasive with worry
Families deal with their own trauma.
The fallout from the pandemic.
Whatever students and families carry
Teachers and support staff feel it too.
It’s so much for everyone.
There’s an equally significant loss in our schools.
A loss of people.
Educators are tired.
Empathy and appreciation are missing.
A willingness to show patience and work together
Is needed now.
A few words of encouragement
From those in the community…from colleagues
Can make a difference
for continuing my calling.