Tag Archives: teaching high school English

Rebellion Poems

Ever felt rebellious and need to vent?  It’s something teens know quite a bit about. When  I taught high school writing classes one assignment was to create a rebellion poem. I provided a sample about an experience I remembered when I was a teenager.

She Tried To Tip The Boat

She tried to tip the boat to prove she was a risk taker

She did it because she was tired of being the dependable child

She did it for the thrill- for a glimpse of life in the fast lane

She did it to make them sit up and notice her

She did it to see if she could make her even-tempered Dad lose his cool

She did it because no one would expect her to

She did for herself

Here are some rebellion poems my students wrote………

He Stopped Going to Church

He stopped going to church

He did it because he was annoyed

He did it to think for himself

He did it to be free

He did it because his parents always went to church

He did it to get away from ‘the crowd”

He did it for himself.                                

She Got A Mohawk Hair Cut

She got a Mohawk to end the monotony

She did it to break the mold

She did it to shock and appall

She did it to stand out

She did it to fit in

She did it to clear the slate

She did it for herself. 

She’s in a Heavy Metal Band

She’s in a heavy metal band

Because she wants to stand out

She’s in it to release some energy

To have fun with her friends

She’s in it to take a break from the norm

To make her ‘strictly classical’ teacher mad

She’s in it to be crazy

She’s in it for herself.

We also tried applying the ‘rebel’ pattern to some famous acts of rebellion like Picasso painting Guernica.

I Painted Guernica

I did it because  Nazi bombers killed my people

I did it because civil war was tearing my country apart

I did it to show the violence of war

I did it because I was angry

I did it because my country was “sinking in an ocean of pain and death”

I did it because I was an artist and I had something to say

If you’re feeling a bit rebellious why not write a rebellion poem of your own? 

Other posts about writing poetry and teens……

Poetry and Teen Agers

I Believe Poems

The Poetry of Boxing



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Life is Messy

The spring and summer before I first started teaching high school English I was in regular e-mail communication with one of my future colleagues from the English Department at the school that had hired me. He was trying to help me understand what teaching high school English was like. He concluded one of his letters with the phrase “Teaching English is messy!”

with advanced comp classI was to learn just how right he was. Teaching English was messy! Every student in the room was usually at a different point in the creative process and each was motivated and inspired by unique things. Students enjoyed different genres of literature so I needed such a variety of books in my room to entice them. The books were often tossed helter sketler on the shelves.  A few didn’t like reading at all. Some writing assignments were done over and over till their authors felt good about them. Other students took persistent coaxing to make them  believe they could write a poem or short story. Because kids often shared things about their personal lives in their writing the ‘messiness’ of their daily struggles often found its way into our classroom and into my relationship with them as I tried to lend a sympathetic ear to their challenges. Our classroom was often messy as groups of students stockpiled costumes for presentations of scenes from Shakespeare or we hauled out magazines for collages, or I brought in my coffee pot and muffins to lure stragglers into being on time for early morning classes.

az travels0006I’ve been thinking lately that life is a lot like English class too. Relationships are usually messy. They rarely run the course described in fairy tales. Different people in relationships want and need different things or are experiencing crisis of joy or pain that need supporting, resolving or negotiating. Friendships don’t just begin and end, they taper off, they are rejunvinated. Some last a life time but grow and change in their intimacy and importance. Goals and plans are messy. They seldom turn out as you expect.  Daily life is messy too- full of grungy toilets to be cleaned, appointments to keep, toe nails to cut, commitments to honor and sometimes the need to spend a day in your nightgown.

The beginning of different stages of life open up so many possiblities you can’t see your way through the exciting maze of them and even the end of life can leave loose ends that need to tended and tied up. 

I loved teaching high school English. The mess of it was so challenging and rewarding. 

I love life. The mess of it is so interesting and inspiring.  

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