The Guest House

 In Emotional Intelligence in ESL classrooms

World Poetry Day


March 21st is probably a good day for this task: The Guest House. The poem by Rumi has become a constant reference in my every day life and I would like to share it with you today. It describes well the world of emotions. Moment by moment we get visited by emotions that come and go. Being able to observe those emotions, accept them, and regulate them develops our emotional intelligence skills.

The task: some days before the activity ask your students to find a poem they are fond of and that they would like to bring to the classroom and share with their classmates. It can be a poem written in their mother tongue or in English.

In class, you may want to present the activity by telling them we are going to watch this video as an introduction to the task. Perhaps invite them first to just sit down for three minutes, close their eyes and concentrate on their breathing, disconnect from all the stress of getting into the classroom, finding a parking spot, worrying about homework (not) being done, or welcoming other students before the lesson.  Just focus on here and now. Be open to what comes next. And breathe.


Three-minute Mindfulness practice, then play this video.


After the brief Mindfulness practice and the video, ask them to read their poems out loud to the students in small groups and to talk about them: what the poem is about, why they picked it up, what they know about the writer, what they like about the poem, etc.

Follow-up by brainstorming ideas for poetry writing: do they think anyone can write a poem, or that creativity is something you are born with, are poets driven by «negative» emotions, can poetry skills be learnt, etc. Explain that creativity may be enhanced by practising Mindfulness as one is more connected to their inner self (read more).


Then ask them to try and write a poem in pairs or small groups. One line each. And share their newly-written pieces of art with the rest of the students as a group activity. Encourage them to just simply enjoy the feeling and put down on paper whatever comes to their minds as automatic. They mustn’t worry too much about creating the perfect poem. When all groups have their poems ready, ask one volunteer to collect them all and pin them up on the notice board. Leave the poems there for a few days for everyone to enjoy their writing.


Alternatively, they might find it easier to write Haiku poems.



 I’m leaving here a copy of The Guest House illustrated for more arty  classrooms




La vida, sin prisa

Recommended Posts
Showing 8 comments

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search