Grade 6 and 7 classes have spent time over the course of two weeks learning from this year’s Writer in Residence, Georgia Heard. Ms. Heard is a poet and educator, with several books published and more on the way. We are very pleased to have welcomed her back to Crofton House School—she was a memorable guest in the late 90s as one of our very first Writers in Residence. The program has run annually for 25 years, and is offered to all Junior School students. This year, we were happy to welcome Ms. Heard for two weeks to work with our Grade 6 and 7 students—though COVID-19 safety guidelines limited the scope of the program in 2020-2021, it was another tradition we found a way to keep up.
“One of the things that she’s done that is really powerful this year is to help middle school girls through feelings of self-consciousness by teaching them to think introspectively,” said Jill McClaren, Teacher, Grade 6. “That’s important at this age, to ask what’s important about you? What do you remember? What’s significant to you? It’s amazing how they have embraced that and it dovetails into our social-emotional learning really nicely.”
In Grade 6, students created heart maps containing words and images of things they hold dear to their heart. Ms. Heard invited them to draw or write memories, people, experiences, small things, places, small moments, feelings, and important items inside their hearts.
In Grades 6 and 7, Middle School students used a “Six-Room Poem” template to break down a specific memory into imagery, light and shadows, sounds, wonder, emotions, and a repetitive element. “It’s really helpful to have someone like Ms. Heard,” said Emily, Grade 7. “Our regular teachers can teach us how to write, but her teaching on poetry has been really helpful.”
She helped students realize that their words don’t have to be perfect right off the pencil and instilled in them the importance and enjoyment that comes with revising. She teaches how to write using rich, figurative language and has inspired them to become wordsmiths in and out of the classroom. “I think a lot of us are talking about beaches and things that are calming because they’re good to write poems about,” said Ella, Grade 7. “They have a lot of poem aspects like sounds, or emotions so it’s really easy to use figurative language when you’re describing them.”
Ms. Heard was an enthusiastic guest, offering students plenty of feedback, private and group conferences, and encouragement. “Our job as writers is to polish things that people might see as ordinary,” said Ms. Heard. “It’s our job as writers to make them extraordinary.”