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Life Skills Taught by Teacher-Poet

Character & Caring

Found in: Classroom Management

I'm a physical education teacher, and while I don't actually teach poetry in my P.E. classes, I use it to enhance lessons or introduce life skills. The goal is to inspire. If it helps only one kid, then it has value.

Growing up, I had a math teacher who would actually sing information he wanted us to remember. I still hear his voice sometimes - Divide the bottom number into the TOOOOP. So along those same lines, I'm hoping to connect with students who might not get it the traditional way, but acquire knowledge through listening/hearing.

Ideally, I want the child to be able to read (or hear) the poem, and walk away with a better understanding of the subject - whether it's acquiring skills (Dribbling a Ball, Throwing a Spiral) or understanding terms (Empathy, Cooperation). Name a characteristic or attribute, and I've probably got a poem on it. I also have them for holidays and national tragedies. I don't know if student behavior has changed because of the poetry, but my goal is to get students to think about and discuss important topics. Ninety percent of my poems, like Relay for Life and Why I Love the Library, are not related to sports or athletics. But they're about growing up. They are about the qualities and characteristics we all want our children to attain.

My poems, such as Encouragement, can easily be implemented into P.E. For example, when asked if it feels good to be complimented and given a pat on the back, the students usually reply in the affirmative. So, I ask the kids to practice encouragement with their teammates or groups they are working with: "Tell 'em how great they're doing. Offer suggestions on how they can improve." It helps their communication skills, and we develop a more caring culture. A poem like Good Sportsmanship can be given to an individual or to a whole class. Zitology can be given to an individual having problems.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of sharing my poems with students. (And I think the poetry allows them to see me in a different light. I don't think they expect poems to be coming from a demanding teacher-coach with a loud voice.) They often applaud after I read a poem (I also usually post them or hand out copies for the visual learners). Sometimes the poems find their way into the school newspaper. And sometimes kids show me their poems.
I've had one poem (The Bully) published by the International Library of Poetry. My principal used a poem of mine, last year, as a basis for her speech at graduation. Our school counselor has used my poems as ice breakers in some of her groups (Dealing with a Loss) and parent gatherings (What Can Parents Do).

Using my poetry helps me teach kids about sports skills, life skills, and character development. It helps open doors to discussion and understanding. And it can be used to help kids learn and remember in a fun sorta way.


 If we all "work together,"
 I have no doubt
 we can tackle "any" problem,
 and figure it out!
 When we "work with others"
 and everyone does "their share,"
 your chances of "success" increase,
 and it's the only thing that's fair!
 So if you use "teamwork"
 and you "play by the rules,"
 you become more "responsible"
 and shine like a jewel!
 It's all about "gettin' along" with others
 and doing your part,
 and being most "agreeable"
 would be a good start!
   - Coach A


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