Schedule a Workshop

How to Schedule a Poetry Workshop –

Call 619-985-1899 or 619-847-8714 

 The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of Bringing a Poet to Class

1.  Check your funding sources. Border Voices poets receive a minimum stipend (based on experience, special skills and/or supplemental activities) of  $60-$85 per hour to prepare and teach a poetry workshop.  One hour classes can be scheduled but the minimum number of hours per workshop is usually five, divided into five one-hour sessions on five consecutive days or once a week for five weeks but adjustments can be agreed upon between the classroom teacher and the poet-teacher when necessary. We suggest that you do this promptly, as it can take time for the district to respond. and take action. Ideas: Check with your PTA. And sometimes Border Voices matching funds may be available providing we have received grants and donations.

2. Please check with your district on payroll procedures for Professional Instructional Expert/Classified Teachers, Code 2183 Classroom nonunion hourly.  The San Diego Unified School District payroll department category for Border Voices poet-teachers is: Sub Teacher, Unassigned Labor Pool #5998.

For payment through the SDUSD the poet teacher has a PAR and needs to fill out a time card which comes from the school secretary. Times and fees must be arranged individually between teacher and poet-teacher. If the school decides to use another source of payment with a check to the poet-teacher from a PTA fund, a Family Fund, or a parent, this is also acceptable with the approval of the teacher, poet-teacher and principle of the school.

What the Poet-teachers Do? 

     Poet-teachers design the poetry workshops and prompt the students to write several poems during the duration of the workshop.  They will gently critique and help the students revise and edit their poems as part of their assignment. And the poet-teacher will select up to four  or more student poems per class to be submitted for judging and possible publication in the Border Voices annual anthology. Publication release form will be sent home to be signed by parents or guardians and returned to the poet-teacher ASAP. The poet-teacher is not one of the judges and the judges remain anonymous until the anthology is published.

      If you are interested in supplementary activities that require additional fees – activities that might include teacher in-services, assemblies and special projects — then you should inquire before the actual workshop session. Funding sources may include: GATE site categorical budgets, PTA, other school budgets and community funding sources (such as foundations, private donations, etc.) or site grants.

3.   Find the right poet-teacher for your class by reading the “profile” section here on the Border Voices Web site.  Click on Poet Teacher Profiles on the Meet the Poets page.  Phone or email the teacher to discuss scheduling a workshop.

4.  Call the poet-teacher and schedule the workshop times and dates. Be certain your poet-teacher understands the precise times he/she will be working with students, where to park, how to sign in as a visitor, and how to locate your room. If you are scheduling consecutive classes in several classrooms on the same day, please allow time for the teacher to gather his/her materials and get set up in the next class.

Note: Scheduling a workshop session is a verbal contract: both parties must agree that a workshop is to be rescheduled or canceled.  Reschedule at least 10 days in advance. Refer problems to Seretta Martin.  Also, follow both site and district procedures for a guest teacher including having your workshop placed on the site activities calendar and reviewing the process for paying a consultant.  

5.  Consider the implications of working with contemporary poetry. You might want to talk to the poet-teacher – in advance of the actual workshop – about materials that will be used in the class, especially if you are concerned about topics and /or language that might be considered inappropriate for your situation.  The poet-teacher are interested in knowing what your class is studying and how the poetry workshop can accompany the required mandated literature curriculum. 

 6.   Classroom teachers should be present and supportive in the workshop sessions. You will need to work with the poet-teacher, especially if you have large classes or immature students.  Involve your students and their families in the Border Voices Poetry Fair every year.  This allows them to celebrate their accomplishments as young poets. 

  A Few Suggestions for Making the Workshops a Success

1.  Schedule early!  The timing of your workshop is important. Please schedule as early as you can in the school year.  All publication release forms that the Poet-Teacher has given to select students should sent home, signed by parents and returned to the Poet-Teacher soon after the last workshop class. Poems submitted for the anthology after our deadline will not be judged for publication in the Border Voices anthology published in the Spring each year.  Instead, those late submissions will be held over to compete for publication the following year.  NOTE BENE:  The deadline for submission changes slightly each year, depending on the needs of the printer and other factors.  However, the deadline is usually in early December but sometimes not until January or February.  Check with your poet-teacher if you’re concerned about cutting it close!).

2. Follow appropriate site and district procedures for hourly employee payment as indicated by the SDCS offices. You may need to call the district budget person assigned to your school because procedures change each year. If you plan to use other types of funds, start the approval process early.

3. Procure a time card for the poet-teacher and check that the information is filled in is correct. If this is handled through a secretary in the office, then make sure the poet-teacher knows who that is. Also, be sure to obtain the appropriate budget numbers and the site administrator’s signature.  Upon completion of the services (preferably on the last day of the workshop session), submit the time card for the principal’s signature and see that the time card is forwarded to Budget.

What Qualifications Do The Poet-teachers Have?

All the poet-teachers have gone through screening and training processes. Many of them have been poet-teachers for a number or years and have degrees in Creative Writing or English. However, if you need more information, check the references in the individual profiles. Or contact Seretta Martin, coordinator of poet-teachers, at or 619-985-1899.  

What are the poet-teacher’s responsibilities?

1.   Work with the teacher to schedule the workshop times.

2. Provide the classroom teacher with the following workshop materials:

 *  Instructions outlining the procedure for submitting the classified employee time card and selected student work.

*  An hourly employee time card filled out with the poet’s Social Security number, signature, and other pertinent information.

*  Four or more student publication permission forms. No student poems will be submitted for judging without a form signed by student and parent or guardian, giving permission for publication of student work.

An evaluation form to be completed and sent by the teacher to Seretta Martin 7467 Mission Gorge Road #118, Santee, CA 92071 or scanned and sent in an email to

 3.  Critique and return all poems to the students in the class. Teach the steps of the Writing Method including the revision and editing process.

4.   Inform the teacher which students the poet-teacher has selected to send their poems to the anthology selection committee. Meet with those students individually to go over their poems and publication release forms prior to submission. Work with the teachers to be sure that edited work is submitted on time with the required forms signed by the student’s parents.


Type the selected poems in Times or Times New Roman, size 12, in the following format.  Email these poems to Celia Sigmon:  Send a Cc to Seretta Martin  Also, send two clean copies of the poems and the completed publication release forms for each student poet or student artwork to Celia for judging. Mail to:

Celia Sigmon
P.O. Box 42
Jacumba, CA 91934

     Poems should be in the following format, beginning in on the left-hand margin.

Poem title
(skip a line)
Poem, line by line, single-spaced except for stanza/unit breaks
(skip a line)
Student name
Grade__, School Name (without the word “school”)
Poet-Teacher: (two spaces) Name of the poet-teacher
Teacher: (two spaces) Name of classroom teacher

For Example:

What Is Poetry?

Poetry is the flag of America
as strong as the bald eagle
soaring in the clear blue sky
helping me to write free.

Cristal Zepeda
Grade 4, La Presa Elementary
Poet-Teacher:  Celia Sigmon
Teacher:  Marcia Olaveson

     Both hard and word-processed copies for shaped and centered poems should show how they would look in publication.  For this type of poem please send a rich text file to Celia and Cc to Seretta.

Please be especially careful to spell names correctly.

ALSO, please correct spelling and grammatical/usage errors (such as subject/antecedent agreement, use of apostrophe, etc.) before submitting poems.

      If the poet-teacher is also submitting poems for the consideration in the California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) anthology there are different guidelines and publican release forms. For this reason some students may receive two release forms to take home for their parent’s to sign and return.  The poet-teacher will need to work directly with CPITS to obtain those guidelines and forms. Our teachers are also members of CPITS and may ask you to sign a CPITS form which helps the organization when it comes to applying for grants.

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