“Teaching: From the Inside Out”

Mar 17, 2019 by

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Teaching: From the Inside Out

Jeffrey Pflaum

Introduction

The poem you’re about to read describes my internal approach to education, teaching, and motivating students. I wanted to connect, to communicate with children who were not always fond of school. How could I reach an audience who did not want to be there? Should I demand that they “pay attention” because “learning is important”? Traditional approaches, in my opinion, might work temporarily, but would not make life-long learners, which was my pursuit. Before teaching the basic subjects, kids need a purpose for studying them, so let it come from the “inside out.” Let me “clear their heads,” get them in the present moment, the NOW, where they can see and visualize their lives, vent and release emotions, thoughts, mind-pictures, and past/present experiences that might be preventing learning: “can they see inside? discover their lives?

How did I reach the children internally? It started with “The Contemplation Music Writing Project”: Students listened to music, contemplated inner experiences, reflected on, wrote about, and discussed these events with classmates and teacher. Practicing contemplation music writing 2 times weekly led to “The Inner Cities Poetry Arts Project.” All the ingredients for poetry writing—and reading—evolved from contemplation: visualization, self-other-world-awareness, “insight-motivation,” sensitivity, compassion, passion, metacognition, creativity, mindfulness, creative-writing, and language-thinking skills. The students’ free-verse and haiku poetry have been published in college, professional, writers’, children’s literary journals, and newspapers, as well as by major commercial book publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Little, Brown and Company. Over the years I compiled two student anthologies: Inner Cities (free-verse) and Dancing in the Spring Rain (haiku). The irony of teaching my kids poetry writing is that I began writing my own poetry. The following work comes from my book (unpublished) titled, Memoirs of an Inner-Cities Teacher.

NJEJ SPRING 2019_JP Poem_photos

Resources for poem, “Teaching: From the Inside Out”

  1. “Contemplation Music Writing Strikes Emotional Chords with Kids”
  2. “Contemplation Music Writing for Educators”
  3. “Part 2: The Music Technique: Contemplation Music Writing: An Alternative to Mindfulness Programs”
  4. “Contemplation Music Writing: An Alternative to Mindfulness Programs”
  5. “The Inner Cities Poetry Arts Project”
  6. “Using ‘Music Writing’ to Trigger Creativity, Awareness, Motivation, and Poetry”
  7. “The Creative Imagination and ‘Concentration Workouts’”
  8. “The Creative Imagination and Its Impact on 21st Century Literacies”
  9. “Traveling with Students on a Lifelong Haiku Journey”
  10. “Music Writing, Contemplation, Tweeting, and Social and Emotional Learning”
  11. “A Penny for Your Thoughts”
  12. “3 M’s for Education: Meditation, Music, and Motivation”
  13. “How Parents Can Use Music to Change Their Children’s Lives”
  14. “Educating the Whole Teacher”
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