‘Teaching with Heart’

Teaching with Heart, a collection of student poems introduced by teachers, is inspiring, writes John Merrow.

He especially likes Alexis Rotella’s Purple:

In first grade Mrs. Lohr
said my purple teepee
wasn’t realistic enough,
that purple was no color
for a tent,
that purple was a color
for people who died,
that my drawing wasn’t
good enough
to hang with the others.

. . . In second grade Mr. Barta
said draw anything;
he didn’t care what.
I left my paper blank
and when he came around
to my desk
my heart beat like a tom tom.
He touched my head
with his big hand
and in a soft voice said
the snowfall
how clean
and white
and beautiful.

Teaching with Heart

Leatha Fields-Carey, a high school English teacher in Smithfield, North Carolina wrote about the poem: “I first ran across this poem when my enthusiasm for teaching was waning.”

It reminded her “that the most important part of what we do is building and healing human beings, one at a time.”

“So many times students come to us wounded—by parents, by former teachers, by peers, by the system, by life,” she writes.  

After reading the poem, she placed a sign on her desk: “See the snowfall.”

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