But then the book focuses on teaching, particularly two different collections and lots of ideas for teaching individual poems, ideas for connecting with poets, whether through social media or while visiting the classroom, and how to be a connected educator in the world of poetry. Smith: I used to be a teacher who would stand in front of the class like a sage on stage and ask students to point out what was going on in a line, find a comparison in a poem and ask, “What do you think it means? And it forced my students not to open the poem on their own, but to try to find the answer they thought I wanted to hear. Let’s say I’m teaching a whole collection, likeHow to Love the Country’ by Richard Blanco orIllegal Citizen’ by Jose Olivares, orAn Origin Story’ by Clint Smith,” he says. “So we have a whole collection of poems, and the students have to put the hexagons together so that the sides they touch indicate the connection between the two poems. Smith: Not only does this help teachers reignite their passion for teaching poetry, but it also helps students in every way. But the best part was at the end of the year when Kaveh Akbar came to class for a poetry workshop, and the students were able to meet Kaveh and personally thank him for his work and for all that his work means to them. Smith, who teaches at a public school in Huntersville, North Carolina, wants educators to expand their curriculum to include other contemporary poets. Smith: Yes, this is another resource that lays out the philosophy of teaching living poets and why we think teaching living poets is so important. Because I teach living poets, I try to focus the teaching on the student. When a young black poet in a canary yellow jacket wowed the audience at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, high school teacher Melissa Alter Smith was ready. Using a teacher friend’s lesson plan, she prepared her students to watch Amanda Gorman speak and analyze her words. Spotting allusions, metaphors, and all the things we love to learn in poetry in English classes. She also wrote the book “Teaching Living Poets” with Lindsay Illich. This teacher, Aunt Miller, was kind enough to teach one of my favorite lessons. Other teachers picked up on it, too, and within days lesson plans for “The Hill We Climbed” were online. After all, it gives many students a chance to not only see their own reflection in the work they read, but also to learn about other people who are often different from us.