Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

The Thursday Post: Poems for Teachers

Image: SAD_Hortons_Kids 104 by US Department of Education, under a Creative Commons licence

Teachers often get a rough time of it, whether from misbehaving pupils, anxious parents, trimmed budget or ambitious targets. Who could blame a teacher for wondering why they got into the profession?

The Scottish Poetry Library, in partnership with organisations across the education sector including the General Teaching Council of Scotland and unions like the EIS, is planning to give a gift to all newly qualified teachers in Scotland: a pocket-sized book of poems, all on the subject of teaching.

We have some form in this area. Since 2014, the SPL has worked with doctors on a volume of poems given to new doctors graduating from Scottish medical schools. Tools of the Trade, as it is called, proved a great success, with positive feedback from doctors and considerable media interest. Such was the demand from members of the public, we now stock Tools in our shop, and it has been so well received that we are now onto a second edition and planning a third.

The proposed slim volume will be edited by teachers for teachers. The book will be similar to that given to doctors in that it will be pocket-sized and full of poems a harassed teacher could dip into during a break to remind them that they are not alone, that many other teachers have experienced what they have and not merely survived, but, ultimately, thrived. The poems, which are funny, serious, subversive and inspiring, capture moments every teacher will recognise.

The book will be published in spring 2018, but we need your help now. Firstly, we need teachers to help add their responses the poems going into the volume. We want teachers to look at just a few of the shortlisted poems; if a poem makes you laugh in recognition or crystallises complex emotions about an element of the profession, we’d like you to write up to 40 words only about why. Some of the comments will be picked to go in the book, their authors credited and given a free copy. If you would like to help, contact us – whatever your specialism – by 27 November at with an email address we can reach you on. We’ll send a handful of poems for you to look at, and we’ll ask you to send us any comment you'd like to write by 15 December.

You don’t need to be a teacher, however, to help us make this book for newly qualified teachers a reality. If you’d like to help with costs, you can text a donation through JustTextGiving. Text poem18 £10 (or amount of your choice) to 70070. You can also donate by cheque made payable to Scottish Poetry Library, and posted to Scottish Poetry Library (FAO Poems for Teachers, Lilias Fraser), 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT. Thank you!

As well as giving copies to newly qualified teachers in Scotland, we shall also place copies on sale in our shop and online.

The publication is supported by a group of professional organisations: the General Teaching Council of Scotland and the EIS, plus the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, and the Association of Headteachers and Deputies Scotland.

Category: projects