Friday, February 18, 2011

The freedom to fail...

Every year at Belmont Hill we have a student poetry festival. The entire student body memorizes a poem and recites it in English class. One or two boys from each class are selected to move on to a semi-final round, and from there one or two boys from each form are chosen to recite their poem at a morning meeting for the entire school community.

I love reciting poetry. When I was in high school I was on the speech team and competed in the poetry category. This year I am organizing our first faculty poetry festival, where faculty will read or recite poems for colleagues and students. I think it will be a lot of fun. I have chosen Taylor Mali's What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If things don't work out, you can always go to law school. It is a great poem and I think it will be a lot of fun to do for the school.

While many faculty members share my excitement and have agreed to participate, I have been surprised by the number of teachers who do not want to recite a poem because as they put it "I'm bad at it," "I can't do that stuff," or "I can't memorize." We so often talk about giving students the freedom to take risks and to fail. How many of us are willing and feel comfortable doing the same. In front of our students? In front of our colleagues? In front of our administration?

I fell like Belmont Hill is a place that would embrace any faculty members attempt to recite a poem, no matter how wonderful or terrible. I know our students will be respectful, regardless of our performance. Sometimes the fear of failure resides inside our own heart. How do we encourage ourselves and each other to take these risks? I've been trying to encourage my friends and colleagues to step outside their comfort zones and give it a try. I want my excitement to rub off on everyone.

We all have our things and this is mine. I can't expect everyone to get on my poetry bus. But I think it would be a great example to everyone, if some of those nay sayers would just give it a go. I'll keep trying to convince them...

Image Credit: Collection of Poetry
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