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Slice of Life 18: A poem for today

This morning, a cold drizzling Saturday, I woke up early and headed south on 202 to the Boot Road exit. A left turn, a right, another left, and soon I was headed into room 126 where dozens of teachers gathered for the annual PAWLP Spring Seminar day. 

Every time I get together with PAWLP friends and family, I walk away feeling inspired, not only because I have some practical ideas to try in my classroom right away, but also because I get to reconnect with writing project fellows and also meet new friends like poet Janet Wong, who was the keynote speaker. With humor and a generosity of spirit, Janet shared suggestions for how to better integrate poetry across the curriculum, and I especially loved her ideas for using poetry through protest art (I can’t wait to try out some of her ideas, which I’m sure to write about in a future post).

Even though I don’t write poetry very often, I think Janet’s talk must have left me thinking in poetry, and in the breakout session, I drafted a poem. The session was on using visual metaphors to build narratives and led by PAWLP fellow Liz Matthews. As I’ve written before, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my faith lately, even bringing my writer’s notebook with me to mass every Sunday. One thing I keep coming back to is a line I wrote in my notebook during a homily a few weeks ago: “Faith is purpose plus optimism.”

I’ve been wondering about that line, wondering in what ways I could say the same thing about teaching, that teaching is also purpose plus optimism. Then is teaching an act of faith? As I explored these ideas during the breakout session, an image of the church congregation came to me, and soon, this poem:

Teaching as an Act of Faith

Jesus taught in parables.
The prodigal son, forgiven,
the lost sheep, always found.
I am not Jesus.

But when I look at their faces,
staring from their desks,
I imagine I see what a pastor sees
on Sunday mornings, bright and cold.

Some faces bored:
they’re not here, not really,
Their minds are elsewhere:
the baseball game that afternoon,
the list of groceries to be bought.
Others find distraction in the
squirming toddler,
whispering neighbors.

But some faces are

I am not a pastor.
I am not Jesus.
But I have faith,
and so I try to lead.

slice of lifeThis post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers, who have created a space for writers and teachers of writers to come together. To learn more about this challenge, click here.


  1. I am interested in how to integrate poetry through out the curriculum. Your meeting sounds like time well spent. Way to go and try poetry, too. I love the images, the squirming toddler, the faces bored, bright, and waiting. And the line I’m not Jesus. It’s powerful and thought provoking.


  2. I am sorry I had to miss this morning’s PAWLP Day. It sounds like it was wonderful! I live your poem. What an interesting comparison-the congregation to the classroom. Makes our work as teachers seem more sacred. I will try to remember that in Monday.


  3. schmidtkristas

    It sounds like a great day of learning for you. I love the idea of integrating poetry across the curriculum. But I also think a lot of teachers (myself included) would feel insecure and unsure how to do so.

    I love your quote: Faith is purpose plus optimism. And how you connected that to teaching and learning.


  4. What a beautiful poem, Tricia–love it! And I so appreciated having YOUR open/waiting/listening face in the room (with so many others) at our PAWLP Day yesterday. PAWLP is a very special group!!!


  5. Really a beautiful poem and a powerful metaphor for the classroom. Any PD that leads to writing is PD time well spent! One of my goals next semester is to integrate poetry throughout my classes again. This semester I got away from it for some reason and I’m missing it. Will look forward to reading your explorations.


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