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California Poets in the Schools’ mission is to develop and empower a multicultural network of independent Poet-Teachers, who bring the many benefits of poetry to youth throughout the State. As a membership network, we offer opportunities for professional development, peer learning, and fundraising assistance for Poet-Teachers in California.


California Poets in the Schools (CalPoets) Poet-Teachers are independent contractors who work on a contract or freelance basis throughout California.  CalPoets’ Poet-Teachers are professional writers who choose to give back to their communities as Poet-Teachers. As members of California Poets in the Schools, Poet-Teachers serve as living models of the commitment to imaginative language and are uniquely capable of sharing an artist’s insights into the creative process.  They should have demonstrated experience in the literary arts and be passionate about teaching school-aged youth in public school settings.  New CalPoets’ Poet-Teachers are paired with experienced mentors to prepare for classroom placement.  This is a great opportunity for poets at all stages of their careers.  Most Poet-Teachers achieve 1-10 teaching contracts per school year. 

As Poet-Teachers, there are opportunities within the poetry community for writing, reading and critiquing our own poetry. But the primary opportunity for developing our skills for teaching poetry are offered by California Poets in the Schools.  


Poet-Teachers enjoy the scheduling freedom the independence brings and can benefit from the deep resources of a larger organization. CalPoets assists Poet-Teachers to develop a professional practice which is financially successful, and a professional path which evolves over the years. 

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*Please note:  As of January 2023, we are not actively seeking Poet-Teacher candidates in Los Angeles county as we have more qualified applicants from this region than we are able to train.  

Click here to fill out an application to become a Poet-Teacher.


Poetry Residency Fact Sheet


CalPoets Poet-Teachers work as independent contractors and are responsible for securing their own residencies. A standard CalPoets contract must be completed and signed by a school representative. Residencies begin as soon as a school, or a district representative authorized to commit funds, signs the approved CalPoets contract. Poetry residencies are designed to fit the needs of each school’s program. The basic one-hour teaching session fee can be $75-150, which includes preparation and follow-up time.  Poet-Teachers are independent contractors and negotiate their own rates with schools. For an additional negotiated fee, if stipulated in the contract, poet-teachers will edit and compile a student anthology representing the best writing from .the residency.


Professional Development

Active Poet-Teachers are invited to attend monthly gatherings and an annual Symposium, to learn and share with experts from within and outside the network.

Use of Organization Name & Logo

Active Poet-Teacher members may use the California Poet-Teacher in the Schools' designation and CalPoets' logo in biographies, contracts and other professional correspondence.

Access to CalPoets' Grants

Active Poet-Teacher members may apply for CalPoets' grant funds.  At this time we offer Special Projects Grants for poetry-related projects and insurance grants when your district requires liability insurance.  

Lesson Plans

Active Poet-Teachers can access proven lesson plans for all grade levels (this webpage is currently under construction) and a complimentary copy of Poetry Crossing, our lesson plan book. 

Fundraising & Professional Support

Active Poet-Teachers can receive assistance with launching and sustaining a Youth Poet Laureate program, a Poetry Out Loud program, communications with schools and districts, etc.  In addition, CalPoets can provide fundraising assistance such as applying for foundation or government grants to support local projects.

Forms & Contracts

Active Poet-Teacher members have access to CalPoets' contracts and forms.  CalPoets' can act as a fiscal receiver of funds from schools and districts when necessary.

Annual Statewide Anthology

Active Poet-Teachers are  invited to submit student and Poet-Teacher poems to the CalPoets' annual poetry anthology.

Listing in our Public Database

Active Poet-Teacher members can opt to create a profile listing in our public database (a new database is coming soon) and receive referrals to interested school districts in your county. 

Artistic Recognition and Support

Active Poet-Teachers are actively recruited to headline CalPoets' events including quarterly Open Mic's and our annual Symposium.  We celebrate Poet-Teacher artistic successes in our newsletter and social media.  In addition, CalPoets nominates active Poet-Teachers for laureate positions, as well as various prizes and awards.


Submit an Application

Initially, submit a professional application for review by the CalPoets' Membership Committee. 

Follow Simple Branding Guidelines

Follow simple branding/messaging guidelines. 

Engage with the CalPoets' Network

Participate in at least three CalPoets'-sponsored events each year.

Teach Poetry, as a CalPoets' Poet-Teacher, in at least one K-12 Classroom each year

Teach at least one poetry residency (typically 5-10 classes) in a California K-12 class in a calendar year, as a CalPoets' Poet-Teacher. 

Annual Recertification

Annual recertification is required (primarily a simple form via Submittable).

Artistic Participation and Leadership

Demonstrate leadership and/or artistic participation in poetry-related community outreach or events.

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