The spirit of competition is embodied in civility, innovation, passion, rivalry, and yes, failure.  However, because preparation for competitions and contests is nurtured in the community established by our teachers we can ensure there is a balance in all things.    We, at Concept English, are here to help teachers create environments that foster innovation and where creativity will flourish.

To build a community founded on the principle of mutual respect for the ideas and work of all student writers and performers is always our goal as educators.  However,  guiding students to listen to each other and support each other’s efforts even when students disagree, is essential to civility.  It is through civility that  rivalries are healthy, not divisive. It is easy to forget that “not winning” is part of all competitions.

In preparation for this year’s Pandemic Poems: A Survival Guide events collaboration, communication, and honoring regulations will be even more important.    This combined with teachers modeling and guiding students as they practice the craft of writing will ensure success. When students come together, they commit to seeing the world through other people’s eyes. This is why we have asked the older students to participate in workshops and, in the case of Spoken Word, the poetry slam/auditions.  

We have previously shared multiple sources of inspiration as well as resources to aid as you work with students.  We hope you have used these in your classrooms, and even set up virtual after school writing clubs.  Since this is a competition and contest, teachers and coordinators should be the first arbiters of who and what you want to represent your schools, so you will select your participants.

The spirit of competition is ultimately about our characters and the characters of our students; their attitudes, as they pursue mutual ambitions, is extremely important. 

During the holidays the word “spirit “ gets tossed around frequently.  The spirit of the season is often exciting and full of anticipation. The spirit of our competitions will create similar effects, but our goal as educators is much bigger.  We need to guide students to manage their emotions and seek balance in the process.  After all poetry is about understanding our souls and nurturing our passions.  For more on the upcoming Pandemic Poems: A Survival Guide, go to:


NOTE: There are multiple studies that have shown that using Spoken Word Poetry as a writing tool will help students breed confidence and discover their self-identities through the act of performing. In addition, there is strong evidence that oral performance can improve writing skills as students engage in higher order thinking when they convert their speaking to the written page. Here is a short article: 

Spoken word poetry raises student voice, literacy and confidence

I am asked all the time about other competitions.  Here are two great resources for regional and national writing competitions where students can also submit their work:

Writing Contests for Young Writers

The Big List of Student Writing Contests