As we come closer to the end of our weeklong dedication to poetry and the Common Core, today’s post looks at poetry as a metaphor for thinking and living creatively. We have this not-so-crazy idea that poetry has the potential to help teachers take care of themselves and their students, infusing an extra measure of heart and joy into any work by making us all more mindful and deliberate.
There is an expanded element of competition in place now, as states work with the same set of standards and the press is tuned in to this historical movement. In addition, new teacher accountability systems, coupled with idiosyncracies in the Common Core State Standards and uncommon implementations, are likely to put educators in difficult places. Teachers who understand both what they believe and what the Common Core asks of them will be better positioned to respond to the initiatives that are enveloping us all. If we recognize that our responsibilities are twofold, that of understanding and that of reflecting, then perhaps this combination of insight and information will give us all a sense of agency.
But this work starts by reading and thinking. As educators, we aim to maintain balance between whatever competing forces are working within our heads. For example, we want to be positive and fair in our explorations of the Common Core, but we don’t want to be naive, either. This professional tension deserves a poetry detour, and mirrored in an experience with her children, inspired Jan to write the sonnet below.
Last night I found you jumping on your bed
So storytime I chose warm to withhold
And decided dark instead to warn and scold
Of all the stitches that would seam your head.
But bedtime books we’ve always claimed sacred
Though you engage in acts defiant and bold
We are reclaimed with every story told,
Grown up through pages turned and poems read.
What moment of despair does make me cross
those lines of hope and risk that I hold true?
When faithless to myself, what have I lost
of narratives I daily write with you?
Last night I left you lonely in your bed
despite the me that fought “no” in my head.
If poetry is the form, then self-reflection can be its function in this Common Core Standards context, as we are wise to launch our implementations of the Common Core with an earnest effort to define what we believe about reading and writing instruction. How much disequilibrium lets you know you are growing, and how much of the same disequilibrium tells you that the scales have tipped away from your vision of your best self?