WITS Voices: Opening a Door to Gratitude

By Letitia Cain, WITS Writer-in-Residence & SAL Event Manager

It’s a Scottish tradition to open the front door of your house at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to welcome in the new year, then rush to open the back door to let go of the past year. It’s a way of ushering in blessings and letting go of what’s been. Not only does gratitude feel good, but research also validates the health benefits when we reflect on our blessings. This year, I’m feeling particularly grateful for my WITS teaching experience.

The students surprise me each class with their excitement and unique ways of appreciating poems. I tell the class we want to read and write ‘fresh’ poems and they make the poems I teach ‘fresh,’ even if I’ve read them fifty times. I thought I might share some of this gratitude—for you to see what happens in the classroom, as we have much to learn from middle school students’ outlook on poetry and the world.

The following comments happened during the poetry lesson I taught the day before holiday break, December 14, 2017. As part of the lesson, the classes of sixth or seventh grade students chose from a group of poems two that they wanted to learn from—all classes chose as one of their choices “Slam, Dunk, & Hook” by Yusef Komunyakaa. Read more…