It has been exciting for me to build out my spring units in English and I am looking forward to all that we are going to cover and the books we are going to read. It’s basically a dream come true to sit in a classroom full of books and get to read and explore the world of literature with the bright and curious minds of our students. Especially exciting for me was the opportunity to teach a poetry unit on our expedition to southwest Colorado and southeast Utah in early January.
For a week we studied the author Joy Harjo, who recently served as the Poet Laureate of the United States, the first Native American to hold that position. We used Harjo’s book An American Sunrise to bring clarity and depth to some of the places we were visiting. From her poems the students practiced writing their own poetry, and each revised and refined a final poem by the end of the week.
As a student, I always found inspiration when I was working outdoors and could see how my education mattered. We call this “transference” in academic talk and for this reason, I loved taking the students to Mesa Verde and reading Harjo’s poems there, then dropping down towards Ship Rock in New Mexico and reading again, writing, and thinking about the world around us. Every student is innately curious and it is up to educators to learn how to inspire that curiosity. Link is unique in the way we bring together so many elements that make up our education: travel, exploration, outdoors, literature, experts, communities, service, and more. I so often wish that what we did was the status quo and not in fact, unique. For now though I am simply grateful that this is what we get to do. Students asked a lot of profound questions while we were out and traveling around. They asked them both of the group but also of themselves. It is such a gift to watch this group of kids grow and engage with the world around them. I cannot wait to see the difference they make in the world.
-Jess Lewis, English Teacher