On Fridays, it is my custom to do a reading for my students. I’ve done this for years. I am on the state arts council, which means that I get free subscriptions to great literary magazine published in the area. I also subscribe to several national journals, and am familiar with the production of respected publishing houses. My point being that I often read what I receive, and like, during the week. I tell my students that, on Friday, “I bring you my mailbox.”
So I do a poetry and/or short story reading. The instructions are for the students to simply lay back, enjoy it or not. “Think of it like a song on the radio. You like it. You don’t like it. If you like it, great. If you don’t, there will be another song. In any case, you will hear what folks, alive right now, are writing.” Thus do I expose my students to W. S. Merwin, Amiri Baraka, Yusef Kumanyaka, Jo McDougal, Tim Seibles, Rita Dove et al. “So lie back. Pay attention. Enjoy.”
Last Friday, I get inspected by district pooh-bah. The class was Advanced Placement English. My evaluation reads —
According to Mr. Publius, the class was just “chilling.” All the teacher did
was read poetry to the students. The students were asked to reflect with
their hearts and minds. That’s all.
How does the teacher test that? The teacher needs to add rigor — what skill
is being taught? How do you measure that skill? How does this help the
school, and/or the district, with the state test?
It is worth adding that I have edited slightly the district pooh-bah’s remarks — edited for grammar, mostly sentence structure and punctuation.
These reports just go into a drawer. That’s all.