By Lucy Oliver, Research Fellow, University of Exeter
‘Writing from the heart’ has been a recurrent theme throughout the Teachers as Writers project. Teachers and writers together have drawn on life experience, memory and emotion as resources for writing in their classrooms, sometimes to powerful effect. The poem below was written and shared aloud by Harry (Year 9) during one such lesson, co-taught by teacher and professional poet.
I remember being happy and kicking the football about with my mum.
I remember sliding and dancing with her.
I remember trying to talk to her but she couldn’t reply.
I remember her going for her check-up, her first one.
I remember going to visit her with my siblings and my dad.
I remember leaving, flooding the floor with tears.
I remember lying on my dad’s bed and seeing him upset.
I remember thinking why, he is never upset?
I remember him telling us she has 24 hours.
I remember crying non-stop for an hour.
I remember visiting her for the last time, seeing her skinny, frail figure.
I remember dressing in a black suit and getting into the Chrysler.
I remember sitting on the pew and thinking why her, why mum?
I remember getting home and going straight to bed.
I remember me being 10, Billy being 6 and Marnie being 4.
I remember telling them it’s OK to cry.
This is what Harry said he had learned and enjoyed about writing over the course of the project:
Well, poetry is my favourite part of English. When the writer came in he gave me a bit of a better insight of poetry, so more variety, rather than just, say, rhyming or, say, stanzas, he’s given us more variety, like ‘I remember’, which has actually helped quite a lot because now I can write poetry in a different fashion…
He said he got his inspiration from real life, like, occurrences, and I, kind of, I’ve started to use my real life experiences of seeing real life things and put that in…
I’ve enjoyed how we’ve gone into like our own fluid writing where we can like write, rather than the teacher telling us what to write. So I enjoy how in poetry you can just free write and then if it doesn’t work scribble it out, start again until it does…
I think over, say, the last six, seven weeks I’ve improved drastically. It’s had a massive impact.
With many thanks to Harry for sharing his reflections with us.
The Teachers as Writers research findings can be downloaded here.