Join the Conversation!
Teaching is worthy and rewarding. By many measures, it is also the toughest ‒ and the most important ‒ job in America. To do it well, takes an ongoing and ever-fascinating conversation that engages the heart, mind, and spirit.
We sought to foster such a conversation in Teaching with Heart, Leading from Within, and Teaching with Fire. In the books, teachers speak about who they are, why they do what they do, and how they keep their heart and commitment alive in their teaching. We asked teachers to reflect on these questions because we believe that what inspires and impassions teachers is worth sharing.
We created this website to continue that conversation. Send us your reflections on teaching and the teacher’s life, your thoughts about education today, or your stories about poems that are meaningful in your life and work. Tell us how you’ve used poetry in your classroom, with your colleagues, and beyond. Or pick your own topic – write about what’s on your mind and in your heart. In any case, please keep the overall tenor of your piece positive – this site is about building up, not tearing down.
This site is is open to all educators: public and private K-12 teachers, college professors, after-school teachers, coaches, principals and superintendents. It is open to educators from all levels of experience – first year teachers, mid-career veterans, and those who have retired after decades in the classroom.
We also invite reflections from those who work outside of traditional school settings, such as yoga and dance teachers, theater directors and workshop facilitators. And we welcome hearing from leaders from other fields (such as those in Leading from Within), writers and poets.
The Submission Process:
Here are the many ways that you can join in the conversation:
- Blog Posts: Reflect on teaching and the teacher’s life, write about your favorite poem and what it means to you, share your suggestions for using poetry in and beyond the classroom, or come up with your own topic.
- Teachers Talk Interview: Lively, fun and thought provoking!
- Thank You, Teachers Project: Online Thank You Letters to Teachers
- Shape, Expand and Support the Conversation: Check out all the ways you can be involved!
Our editorial board will select submissions that represent a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. We will notify you within a month if your piece has been accepted. Then we will work with you to edit your submission so that it is ready for posting. You will retain full rights to your submissions. You may send in more than one submission. Submissions will be posted according to themes and openings in the blog schedule.
For help with your blog post, feel free to contact Megan Scribner at firstname.lastname@example.org. In creating our three poetry books, she helped hundreds of teachers write about their work and life. She’d be delighted to work with you.
Megan does this editing – as well as moderating and maintaining the website – during her “free” time. To help cover some of her time and the costs of maintaining the website, we ask that you consider contributing $30 to the website with your submission. Or “pay it forward” by writing a thank you letter and sending a gift book to a special teacher through our Thank You, Teachers Project. The gift package costs $30 for the book, shipping & handling and helps to support all the efforts on this website.
See below for guidelines for the blog submissions and a submission form.
1. Reflect on Teaching and the Teacher’s Life
Share your reflections on your life and work as a educator, tell us what it’s like being a teacher these days, share something that’s on your heart and mind these days, or reflect on a teaching experience. Tell us what this experience was like and the impact it had on you and others. We’re looking for a wide variety of reflections and stories – so please feel free to write about what’s on your mind and in your heart.
Mel Glenn’s Teaching Retired Teachers and Emily Brisse’ Resilience: On Working and Mothering are two good examples of blog posts. Questions? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com. When you’re ready, fill out the submission form and hit submit.
Our books, Teaching with Heart, Leading from Within and Teaching with Fire, are all based on the premise that reading poetry stirs up an inner conversation about questions, emotions, and things that matter. Because poetry slows us down and focuses our attention—it can yield poignant insights into what is most significant and enduring in our work as educators. We are seeking reflections modeled on the teachers’ commentaries in these books. Here’s a great example: Annette Breaux’s reflection on Emily Dickinson’s “If I can stop one Heart from breaking.”
For your poetry reflection, identify a poem that matters to you. We appreciate that you may have written poetry of your own, but this website focuses on published poems written by others that are meaningful to you.Write a brief commentary (up to 250 words) that describes your personal relationship and connection to the poem. Your commentary should not be an explication, but a personal narrative that describes how this poem touched you and how it helps you make sense of your life and work as an educator. Here are some prompts you might consider:
- How did you discover the poem?
- What is the story behind your connection with this poem?
- How does this poem inform your work or your life?
- What do you sense this poem is trying to tell you?
3. Share Your Ideas for Using Poetry
While reading poetry is often a quiet, solitary act, poems can also be shared and read together in groups. Doing so can create opportunities for new understandings of the poem, each other and the life or work we have together. Please send us your story of how you have used poetry to teach, inspire, open up conversations, work with others, create community or create a special space of your own. Here a few questions to guide your writing:
- How have you used poetry in your classroom, with your students, on behalf of fellow teachers?
- How have you used poetry to lift people’s spirits, to create a deeper understanding of some lesson, to create community?
- Where do you post poems? For yourself? For others?
For ideas on how to use poetry in the classroom and beyond, see the Using Poetry for Reflection and Conversation chapter from Teaching with Heart. Questions? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you’re ready, fill out the submission form and hit submit.
Teachers Talk Interviews: What are 5 things you can’t teach without? What’s the best teaching advice you ever got?
Answer these and other engaging questions in the Teachers Talk Interview Form. Please encourage your fellow teachers to send in their responses – and look for the interviews in the Teachers Talk section.
Every day in classrooms across the country, dedicated professionals put in long hours educating students, preparing lessons, grading homework, engaging with families, collaborating with colleagues, and overcoming obstacles. Their work is vital to children, parents, communities, and our future, yet rarely do teachers receive the thanks they deserve. The Thank You, Teachers Project wants to change that by sending a wave of gratitude to teachers across the country.
We invite you to write a thank you letter to a special teacher in your life. Thank a teacher who made a difference in your life – in the classroom, on the field, in the art studio, on stage, in the library, in the principal’s office, and beyond. Parents are encouraged to help their children participate. For more information, please check out the Thank You, Teachers Project, our FAQ, and then use our easy forms to post your letter and, if you like, send an autographed copy of Teaching with Heart – a poetry anthology written by teachers for teachers – to your teacher.
Shape the Conversation: We want this website to work for you. Please share your ideas about how to expand and deepen the conversation.
Support the Conversation: Creating and editing the blog posts and sharing them with the world takes a great deal of time. This is all done on a volunteer basis — so any and all support would be greatly appreciated! Please consider “Paying It Forward” by writing a thank you letter and sending a gift book to a special teacher through our Thank You, Teachers Project.
Please share this website and the call for submissions with your colleagues and throughout your networks. The more the merrier!
Please also let us know if you have questions, ideas of how to make this site work for you, or other ways you’d like to contribute. We’ll do our best to take on as many ideas as possible. Contact us at email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you!