Teaching with Heart is a collection of poems each accompanied by a personal reflection by a teacher that explores the meaning and significance of the poem in their life and work. The book is modeled on two earlier books in this series Teaching with Fire,which was published in 2003, which also focused on teachers, and Leading from Within (published in 2007, with stories written by a wide range of leaders from doctors, lawyers, community activists, sport coaches, to Member of Congress.)
The stories in this book – and the others – aren’t analysis of the poems or even examples of how they teach a poem in class – they’re more about the poems that explain why the chose this profession, or the poem they reach for at the end of a tough day to find solace or inspiration so that they can return to class the next morning ready to get back at it, or the poem that leads them to more deeply see a student or a classroom situation with fresh eyes.
We solicited poems and stories from far and wide. To get these stories we reached out to teachers, educators, administrators -- through word of mouth, emails, networks, organizations, and websites. We sent out emails to strangers that we thought had interesting stories, we asked friends and relatives to share the call for submissions with anyone they thought might be interested, we even asked our children’s own teachers. The specific ask was:
Take a moment away from your crazy busy days, step outside the frenetic cycle of pressure and demand, and speak to us about who you are, why you do what you do, and how you keep your heart and commitment alive in your teaching.
We asked teachers to reflect on these questions because we believe that the story of what animates teachers in their life and work is of great importance. What inspires, impassions teachers is worth sharing.
This book’s mission is to host the voices of teachers talking about what really matters to them about their work and their craft...Poetry was the prompt, the Rorschach blob, the talking stick, or for those of you familiar with Lord of the Flies—the conch. We received hundreds of submissions from across the country and the world. Teachers shared poems that marked a special moment on their life’s journey and they described how poetry can be a stalwart and essential companions in their work.