Spoken Word Poetry Journey Slam

Students present to students in Spoken Word format on their learning journey, which is recorded as a podcast

Photo of William Cavada
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This is an example of what I vision


Why this?

  1. As you see them, what are the outcomes of a successful parent teacher conference for:
    1. Parents

A Better understanding of the needs and strengths of their child

    1. Teachers

A space for  teacher to explain their expectations for their students and how said student is meeting or not meeting expectations

    1. Students

How to strive and succeed in the class

  1. How and why do PTCs today not deliver those outcomes?

Today PTC lack the authentic voice of students. The goal of a PTC in the end is help students succeed in the classroom and life. Yet PTC are often top down and focus on negative aspects of the students. I have spent time in Individual Student Plans, and the conversation rarely involves the student directly, even as they are sitting there during the conversation.  Thus I feel students often feel minimized and useless. Data, expectations, report cards, goal-setting, learning objectives, and parent-teacher conferences. These are just some of the responsibilities of teachers

  1. Which failure(s) does our Slam address, and how?

It is brings the student's voice to the front. It allows the student to address their own unique strengths and weakness. Student become axcesor of their own learning and hopefully helps them with perseverance, currently but also in lifelong settings.

  1. Are there any failures it won’t address?

The parent/teacher component looks to me minimized, But his can be addressed by the using the student’s journals and performance as the starting off point for the conversation. Uses of the students voices as real artifacts to go along with grade.  The goal of the PTC now in tandem with the student look for solutions to any learning or behavior issues.  The PTC  wouldn't have to be as part of a traditional PTC - it could be for example individual half-hour meetings held after-school over the course of the semester

5. Why do you want a parent-teacher conference to be student-centred?

It is more empowering. Students feel defected from teachers and parents when it comes to school. If students can learn to look critical and turn negatives into positives, students might be stronger emotionally and academically.


  1. Can you describe the practicalities of how it would work - including but not limited to: format, structure, how long would it be?, how often would it be held?, how big would it be (class level? Year-group level? Pupils of different ages?)?, would it be moderated?, what would the pupils present?, is it aimed at a specific age group?etc… - basically just looking for a project outline.    
    The Poetry Slam could  involved one teacher, one class or scale up to a multiple of teachers and their class.
    End of the 1st grading period, (could be held again second semester)Teach would take students through the process of Spoken Word (grades 3 and up)Students would journel each week to be used for reflection.Students reflect on their learning styles, skills, accomplishment  and dreams for success. Students would practice performing.The Spoken Word would be an evening event in front of Parents and Teachers.Would it be class level? not sure.The format of Spoken Word would be followed, 3 judges. They would each have signs like, Wow, Amazing, Super Star. I am also think the signs could be emoji all positive. The  audience positive participation is key, they are to snap at the end, anytime the poet stops and need encouragement or any line of the poem they like they can snap their fingers.   There is a Moderator, this could be a student or community poet.Students have 2 min max. The moderator would also set the rules and a sacrificial poet would open up the night, helping the audience understand the rules.

  2. How would difficult conversations be had?In the process of writing, conversations will come up around difficulties and it would be up to the teaching to help students frame and talk about them. Life will present students with problems and difficulties.  Learning how to manage and deal is not easy, but learning to express and understand their own feelings, allows for the problems to be understood. It is through the help of  their teacher and parent where they will  find solutions.   
  3. How would parents get the opportunity to talk to parents, and vice versa?This is not addressed, so I will need to think about this question.
  4. What is the role of parents and teachers in the process?To learn how the students see themselves, what assumptions they are making about themselves. We teachers often misinterpreted a student action. Teachers often are concerned with the grade or assignment but not the whole child.  The slam becomes a tool to better understand and evaluate the whole child.   This is not to say the child can see or recognize all problems and there can still  be a chance for parents, teachers and students to have difficult conversations in private, and not all of those will be ones which the child can solve themselves.

  1. Would all pupils have to take part? Would they put themselves forward or be chosen? Yes all would take part.What about for pupils who are less confident speaking publicly, There is practice built in the activity . Positive participation from the audience, is  key to supporting pupils less confident. They act is more important than the result.
    or who don’t want to share their personal experiences?They would not have to have their spoken word shared via podcast.
  2. Why record a podcast and what would you do with it afterwards? Good question.

I see this as like the Moth Radio. This is how it could be scaled, the product becomes a toolkit for other schools. Also if students heard other students with the same issues, they might not feel so alone. It could serve as inspiration or ways for students to hear how others have had the same difficult issues.


  1. Are you aware of anything being done like this before? Are there any other similar practices, even if not as part of a PTC?


  1. How would it be trialled and what would the measure(s) of success be?

The measure of success is if  student learning improved. One other measure is students perseverance, does this personal trait improve.

  1. How would it be scaled - what would the “product”, “toolkit”, etc be for other schools to replicate the Slam?

There is a wide variety of material for Slams.  The podcast will also allow other students to see and hear and use a model. Perhaps the podcast could serve   along the lines of some sort of social or support network for children - but could parents also be brought into that? Could you have a resource bank of issues and solutions which parents, teachers and kids could come to?

Google doc here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AXwPi2xjs5WeH9RYeP77akStWScofAgrk0ERwRBNaj4/edit?usp=sharing


Join the conversation:

Photo of Molly McMahon

oh wow -- this is podcast that I would definitely listen to. For inspiration did you see this Harvard M.Ed spoken word grad speech? 


Photo of William Cavada

Yes, this is exactly what I imaged. 

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