By Sam Piha
Providing opportunities for youth to reflect on and express their thoughts and feelings are critical strategies for any afterschool program. These opportunities are essential to promoting youth voice, healthy youth development, social emotional skills and resiliency, especially for those who have experienced trauma. The integration of writing is a very powerful way to do this. Strategies and activities include poetry, spoken word and journaling. Previous LIAS blogs focused on poetry and journal writing.
“Offering young people meaningful writing opportunities allows them to share their ideas and using their voice helps them communicate and feel agency.” – Afterschool Provider ED, California
Later we saw him featured on the PBS Newshour where he gave his Brief But Spectacular take on how spoken word poetry amplifies student voice. “I used to hate poetry. I hated it as a student. I hated it as a teacher”, he said. “I was inept at teaching it. And in the mid-’90s, I brought in a former student, Jonathan Vaughn, to help me out. And he came in. And he mentioned the idea of a poetry slam. And my students asked if we could do that. So, we went ahead and did a poetry slam. And the student with the lowest grade in my class ended up winning it. And everybody looked at the kid differently after that. And he looked at himself differently, more importantly.”
In collaboration with his current and former students, Kahn has released an anthology, Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School.