Whether it is the Trunchbull’s straining muscles that stick in your mind or choruses of "Oh captain, my captain", there is no doubt that teachers make great literary characters.
Five Poems about Teachers, one of the titles in a new series of Candlestick Press poetry pamphlets, celebrates the eccentricities of those who enter the teaching profession through light-hearted works by poets including Allan Ahlberg, John Hegley and Annette Wynne.
"The series is aimed at primary school students and teachers, first and foremost," says Jenny Swann, editor of the pamphlets. "We believe it will help schools to make poetry fun and accessible. On the back page, we invite children to write their own poems or draw pictures – they are intended as fun and yet thoughtful, too."
This simple lesson outline shows how the pamphlet can be used to inspire students to write their own poems:
Make a list of vocabulary words that are connected to teachers and school. Write the words on a flipchart or a section of the board so that everyone can see and contribute.
Read one or more of the Five Poems about Teachers as a class, projecting the text onto the whiteboard. Identify what makes the teachers in the poems unusual.
Explain that poets play with language and use words in fun or surprising ways. Underline new or interesting words in the poem with the help of the class, defining these if necessary. Are there any words that students would like to add to the class vocabulary list?
Students write their own poem about an unusual teacher, using the vocabulary list to support them. Begin this activity by modeling writing a few lines on the board yourself. Students should include at least one new piece of vocabulary and write about imaginary teachers only, not somebody who works at the school.
When students are happy with their poem, they should check and illustrate their work. Those who want to can read their finished poem aloud to the rest of the class.
Go around the room and ask each student to share one of the new vocabulary words that they have used in their poem.
Five Poems about Teachers is available to buy, along with the other titles in the series, from the Candlestick Press website.