How to Teach Poetry: Lesson Plan 5 (Creating a Safe Space)

Course: How to Teach Poetry

Lecture 5: Democratize the Classroom (5 of 15)



  • Apply the model of the most ideal classroom structure
  • Turn the classroom into a safe space for both teachers and students (philosophy of: "What is said in the classroom, stays in the classroom)
  • Cultivate strong student/teacher relationships in your poetry classroom
  • Mentor students as a "family member" as opposed to solely an educator


  • Gain a sense of security in class
  • Feel confident enough to express emotions while among classmates
  • Discover the importance and effectiveness of emotionally-charged writing


  • Prepare a piece of paper with a personal insecurity on it (this will be shared with the class)
  • Put the paper into a bowl which will later hold the students' "personal insecurity" papers  as well


  • Write down a personal insecurity


  • Students will have the first 3 minutes of class to write down a personal insecurity
  • Students' papers will be collected and put anonymously into the "Personal Insecurity Bowl"
  • Students will be split into 5 groups and each group will be assigned a poem from PowerPoetry's Best Slam Poetry: 5 Top Works from Master Slam Poems
  • Students will have 20 minutes to use "close-reading" strategies to analyze the poem and also write down which emotions they identify and resonate with
  • The class as a whole will have 10 minutes to review PowerPoetry's Tip Guide Word Warriors 1: Feedback- The Poetic Kind (the purpose of this exercise is for students to understand the importance of writing about true emotions in poetry and to respect/empathize with the feelings of others)
  • For the remainder of class the teacher will read aloud each paper from the "Personal Insecurity Bowl"
  • Once the papers are all read, they will be placed back into the bowl and students will come to the front of the class and randomly choose a piece of paper from the bowl



  • Students will write a poem based on the random paper they received and will be prepared to share the paper and their poem with the class (the teacher should take part as well to demonstrate equality in the classroom)
  • The subsequent class period, once all papers and poems are read, each student (and teacher) will tell the class what their original, Personal Insecurity paper read (this will allow students to feel comfortable writing about difficult topis as well as sharing their personal feelings with others)


How to Teach Poetry Teacher Lesson Plan 5