The first lesson of the semester the students went to the whiteboard to put up the different coloured post-its with their favourite book, film or tv-series and hobby to tell the class what they had put down in words. This is not easy, I know. Still I wanted them all to make a try even though they were strangers to each other on this second week of Upper Secondary School. Little did they know that they less than two months later would read their poetry in front of the class, not hesitating at all.
This, is progress. This, is what an impromtu lesson on a sunny blue skyed and chilly day will do to body and mind. Using mindfulness and art and inquiry and activity the students got into flow.
Minding the Moment.
The Poetry Walk starts with a mindfulness exercise were we notice what we see, hear and feel (physically) and in doing so releasing what is not the present, finding ourselves in the moment.
- Have you ever hugged a tree? I ask. Felt it under your hand? Let's do that.
- What is this? A chestnut. Let's open it and feel the touch of its surface on the palm of our hands.
...and put it in you pocket for luck, or just touch it once in a while to remember this day.
And we talked about Claude Monet. Me showing atumnal paintings by the hand of the founder of French impressionism, asking questions to connect the minfulness exercise to art, painting pictures in their minds.
Put the present into a poem.
Then the students go off on their own for ten-fifteen minutes to write their poems using the mindfulness technique they used for the first time ever, today. Some move in groups, some in pairs, the writing they do on their own. We use different coloured papers; green, blue, red and yellow, not unlike the post-its from our first meeeting in the classroom.
When we are ready we gather under the biggest tree in the park and the students form a ring. They all read their poems, listening to one another and spontaneous applause follow every last line. And yes, little did they know that they less than two months into the semester after speeches on the theme Tell Me Your Story that were both dreaded, and emotional, would share their inner feelings as poets.
What a Poetry Walk can unleash.
The last of my students to read her poem was Mary-Jane Alfredström. Putting it simply - what do you hear what do you see, what do you feel. Her questions to you, and the invitation to join us.
This is the road to travel by.
Agneta M Lindh