What I Really Teach

by Mrs. Nilsen on April 1st, 2014

In case you haven't heard the news yet, April is Poetry month at MRA!  Years ago, when I was asked to write a multi-page paper in college for my Personal Teaching Philosophy, the format and purpose felt inadequate.  I didn’t want to ramble on for multiple pages with terminology and jargon that only fellow educators would understand.  I wanted a philosophy that was simple, elegant, and focused on what really, truly, and deeply mattered to my heart.  I wanted a philosophy that captured the essence of my philosophy of education.  To accomplish this I wrote a poem.

I do not claim to be a poet, but for this writing task the medium felt right.  Luckily, I had a professor who allowed me to show an alternative form of proficiency. My professor met me where I was in readiness, interest, and learning need and accepted my poem philosophy.  I thought for Poetry Month, I’d share it with all of you:

Personal Teaching Philosophy – Emily Allen Nilsen
I teach students how to fall.
Each one a drop of dew
when the sun sets on summer
and school begins anew.
A clean slate.
We grow closer together
in support and love.
It is not my job to shake the branch
that would send them flying
in all directions. 

Gentle support and rigorous challenges
each drop realizing their own weight in the world. 
We all contain a speck of dust
heavy enough
to guide us.
Most are scared to let go. 
They wonder,
“How could one small drop
make any difference in the sea below?
It’s safer to cling to the leaf.”

That’s when I love them even more.
Giving love for exactly who and where
students are in life – the job description 
of a teacher.  
I empower that tiny drop to see
past the long and frightening fall 
to the power they hold

I teach reading
I teach math 
and English, and science, and history,
but there is so much more to the journey.
I teach self-worth and discovery
exploration, questions  
I watch as the drop starts to slide down,
speed, hope, trust,
embracing the freedom of flight.
The impact is stunning 
but the ripples that follow  
and follow
and follow
and follow...

That is why I teach.

I look forward to helping students find their voice as they too, try to put pen to paper and say something real to them.  May this month of exploration in poetry truly be an exploration to what matters most to us. 

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Poetry, Community, Core Values


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