Teacher finds inspiration in spoken word poetry
by Joan Aguon Charfauros
Guam - For Tiyan High School's John Sarmiento, the idea of teaching derived from having one amazing 6th grade English teacher named Mrs. Reglos. "She really was the first person who believed in my writing capability and literary talent," he recalled. "She saw the potential and that made me interested in becoming, a writer process by which you become a teacher."
Sarmiento is at the Home of the Titans teaching creative writing and ESL English 11. He may have only two years of teaching under his belt, but his involvement with the spoken word poetry movement Sinangan-Ta helped pave the way. "Actually it begins when I was a junior in high school, and after I graduated that program as an artist I was already in a classroom setting working with young people and trying to despite what anyone says, I've been a teacher since then," he said. "My work as an artist, as a hip-hop artist, as a member of Sinagatan-Ta, it definitely prepared me to enter an educational program."
He added, "That really help me become a more refined educator, even as a second year educator. I do have a long way to go, I still have a lot to learn, but I'm not half bad at this point."
So how does Sarmiento engage his students? "In creative writing, you can't expect kids to want to write creatively. You have to give them access to a number of tools - music, poetry and really just an open dialogue."
Sarmiento believes the biggest difficulty for him right now is the lack of resources, telling KUAM News, "Because this is a new school and creative writing is a program that isn't part of the core curriculum, I haven't received any type of resources and I don't think I'm going to anytime soon." He is in the process of building his own library of resources.- everything from songs, multimedia, short stories, noting, "My goal for the school is to build a sustainable creative writing program."
At the end of the day, Sarmiento hopes to have made an impression on his students, saying, "I hope it's that they can view anything that is happening in their lives from more than one angle. If they think critically enough, they can approach any time. A lot of time we get kids on a one track mindset - this is the only path I can take. In my class, one of the biggest things we do is analyze. They will be able to analyze their life, teach them how to be analytical, how to be critical, and how to be members of the society and produce writing for this society."