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2014 Conference on Poetry & Teaching Faculty: Iain Haley Pollock

Return to all Conference on Poetry & Teaching faculty and fellows

Iain Haley Pollock‘s first collection of poems, Spit Back a Boy, won the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.  He lives in Philadelphia and teaches English at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where he is the Cyrus H. Nathan ’30 Faculty Chair for English.  In addition, Pollock is on the faculty of the Solstice MFA Program of Pine Manor College.

Read a poem by Iain here.

Teaching Statement:  After six years of teaching middle school students, I made the move to high school students this year.  For my time as a middle school teacher, I thought that I was catching students at their most impressionable–while they were forming lifetime ideas and values–and was therefore doing the most good in their lives.  However, a conversation with a former student, in which he detailed his transformation from a mathematical middle school mind to a passion for the humanities, and my nascent experience as a high school English teacher have made me see the error of my idea about middle school students.

We are all always in process and capable of change.  Which is to say, high students are always in the process of defining themselves, their controlling ideas, and their guiding values.  The experience of high school, I’m coming to see, is just as formative as the experience of middle school.  I had thought that as a high school English teacher I would more intently focus on the nuts and bolts of the discipline, but I’m finding that high school students need character development, mentorship, and intellectual role models as urgently as middle school students do.  As a literature and creative writing teacher, I must have a masterful command of my discipline, but I cannot lose sight of my role as an exemplar, motivator, coach, and cheerleader.

Date: December 23, 2013