A thank-you letter to the teachers who have invited me into their classrooms to bring spoken word to their students
Dear You Awesome Teacher You,
I want to thank you for being open-minded. For being curious about this powerful art form of performance poetry. For expanding your students' minds to help them see beyond capital-P Poetry.
By allowing me to teach spoken word to your students, you've given them a gift that I never had as a kid. Your students are now looking beyond the curriculum to learn about one of the fastest literary movements in modern history. Spoken word and slam poetry has given a voice to the voiceless, and I've seen that first-hand with your students who began the class shy and quiet but finished the class with braver throats.
I want to thank you for letting me workshop with your students so they can share their stories. It isn't easy to do so in school; kids wear masks to avoid being judged, to help them fit in, and with poetry being such a raw art form to share the truths buried inside their chests, these youth are now seeing what is possible with poetry. It's not just lessons plans about dead white people, I like to say. Today's spoken word is performed by people who look like them, talk like them think like them.
You might not know it, but you have given your students a community they can embrace any given week. I have seen how students I've taught bring their poetry to the Drake Hotel for Toronto Poetry Slam, or our BAM! Youth Slam, or Dwayne Morgan's Up from the Roots events. That is a unique gift that not many teachers award to their classrooms, and believe me, it doesn't go unnoticed.
So thank you for being a teacher that I respect because you've given your students an opportunity to inch closer to creative expression and being vulnerable. I only wish you were around when I was in high school.
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