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"When students share pieces of themselves..."



So far, my experience at Shortridge has been pretty fantastic. I’ve enjoyed the different dynamics of the students in both reading tutoring and Exclusive Ink. Sometimes it seems like we’re just hanging out with the kids, which is great. They have so much spirit; it’s catching.


Each day that Kim comes into class, she has a smile on her face, ready for whatever we throw at her. This kind of eagerness to read, to learn, is refreshing. I love being able to share in her experience of reading, especially a book that she finds interesting, something to which she is able to relate. I also find myself enjoying the story right along side her.


When this class ends and Exclusive Ink begins, there’s a change in energy, as all the students start to file in. I’m always impressed by how they all just jump right into conversation. It seems as if they always have something to say, about the way they like their sandwiches—apparently, there is a lot to be said—or about their various relationships and nicknames for their friends.


As we get around to writing poems, their sense of imagination, capacity for invention, and narrative qualities never cease to impress me. One of Dontasia’s poems struck me; her voice, strong and clear, tells the story of a childhood memory of a bee sting. She was excited to be able to incorporate a line of music into the poem, and from there her writing flew. It was pretty awesome to be able to be part of that process and to see how she became inspired to write.


Last week, Katrina handed one of her poems to me and told me to go ahead and read it, surprising me with her openness. It was based on the prompt with the image of a bowl with a crack. Her writing, in bold yellow highlighter, blew me away with its language and depth. It reminded me why I write poetry and what it is that makes other poems really speak to me.


These moments, when students share pieces of themselves through their writing or through conversation, are the moments that are truly inspiring and make teaching that much more enjoyable. When I leave the classroom at Shortridge to a chorus of goodbyes I’m always a bit bummed I have to go off to catch my next class. I don’t want to miss out on what the students have written or what they share at Open Mic later that afternoon, but it gives me something to look forward to asking them about the next day I’m there.


Hannah Wallace is a senior Anthropology major.