What is an i am Poem and how can it be used in the Classroom

“I Am” poems are all about the person writing the poem. They are a way for students to introduce themselves to the class using ideas way that they would not usually use with acquaintances. Through an “I Am” poem the students share their emotions, senses, hopes, and dreams. It is a good way for students to learn about each other and it also gives them a chance to learn a little more about themselves.

Classic “I Am” poem template:

First stanza:

I am (2 special characteristics you have)
I wonder (something of curiosity)
I hear (an imaginary sound)
I see (an imaginary sight)
I want (an actual desire)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

Second stanza:

I pretend (something you actually pretend to do)
I feel (a feeling about something imaginary)
I touch (an imaginary touch)
I worry (something that bothers you)
I cry (something that makes you sad)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

Third stanza:

I understand (something that is true)
I say (something you believe in)
I dream (something you dream about)
I try (something you really make an effort about)
I hope (something you actually hope for)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

An example of the classic form of “I Am” poetry is this poem that I wrote to help my daughter understand the process when she had to write one for school.

I am a wife and mother.
I wonder what the world will be like for my children.
I hear their footsteps as they leave me behind.
I see them with their families.
I want them to be happy.
I am a wife and mother.

I pretend that they will always need me.
I feel I will always be here for them.
I touch their hearts with my thoughts.
I worry they will not find happiness.
I cry when they are hurt.
I am a wife and mother.

I understand that I will not always be the most important person in their lives.
I say that they need to follow their own paths.
I dream that they will choose happiness over riches.
I try to let them make their own mistakes.
I hope that they learn from those mistakes.
I am a wife and mother.

A variation on the classic “I Am” poem would be to have the students write a poem with each line beginning with “I Am”. The length could be determined by the teacher or the student. In many cases this works better with younger students who have a harder time expressing themselves.

Whichever form of “I Am” poems you use in your classroom you can be sure that they will each be as unique as each individual student. Using this poetry form at the beginning of the school year is a good way for students to become familiar with each other. It is fun to use this form near the end of the school year and have the students try to guess who wrote each poem. As a teacher, it is nice to compare the two and see how much each student has grown over the year.