Getting Ready For the Unknown

Next week I begin a new part time job that seems like it will be a better fit for my skillset than washing dishes at Sur la Table: I’m the Reading Specialist for the Clintonville Resource Center’s Kids Clubs, their after school program. There are three sites, and I’ll spend about two hours a week at each site working to help K-5 children become better readers (and writers).

I know exactly what to do, and yet I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have no classroom to prepare, no classroom library from which to easily pull books, no real context for the work we will do or real influence outside of the bits of time we will spend together.

If it was true as a classroom teacher, it is even more true now: I have to make every minute count. Guess what I’m planning to use as short texts that are brimming with all kinds of instructional moves for students of all ages? POETRY, of course! And because poetry is often neglected in the regular classroom, that is where I hope to find my opportunity for context and influence.

Just like in the classroom, we will begin by getting to know each other. We’ll start by sharing our favorites — favorite foods, favorite things to do, favorite (and maybe not so favorite) ways to feel.

We’ll talk and read and draw and write. I’ll listen, ask, and notice. All very good places to begin, even when you think you have no idea what you’re doing.

19 thoughts on “Getting Ready For the Unknown”

  1. This work is made for you, yes–and you could invite those connections and build those skills even without poetry to help you. But YES, poetry will help you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And your “Lettuce” poem in THINGS WE EAT will get them hungry for lettuce in their afternoon snack, Mary Lee!!


  3. Congratulations, Mary Lee! I agree with your mindset/approach for starting: talking, reading, drawing, and writing–listening, asking and noticing. They are fortunate to have you and your poetry! Look forward to reading about your experiences. Best wishes as you begin!


  4. That sounds awesome. I am also starting anew position this year. A long term sub position in a low incidence autism program for 6th and 7th graders. I am teaching Math, Science, Social Studies and ELA as well as some interventions and am looking forward to bringing poetry in somehow. I am also hosting Poetry Friday this week and I have it up already. Feel free to link this post or any other and look forward to seeing you there.


  5. I’m excited for the children in your community who, unbeknownst to them, will receive the uninterrupted attention of a master teacher for two hours a day working within a medium she loves. Most often after school programs are the provenance of people who are just child-herding, not actually giving them educational extras. Lucky future poets and writers — and lucky you. This beats Sur La Table hands down.


  6. Sounds exciting & the way you’re approaching feels good, Mary Lee. I’m sure you know the kids will lead you, too. Those anthologies will make a marvelous background for everything. Best wishes!


  7. Mary Lee, this new job sounds wonderful because you are a fabulous teacher who understands children. I love the anthologies you chose to bring out the inner poet in each child. Good luck!


  8. You are the best! Poetry always bridges people. Those kids are fortunate to start out this year with you…and you will get to enjoy them just because!


  9. Mary Lee, all the best! Here’s to a great year doing what you love, even though it is in a new context. I love your plan. It sounds perfect, especially the plans to listen, ask, and notice.


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