For what it's worth I made the assumption that your class follows along what is typical for a general education type class.
If your class, instead, opens up options for true general expression of thoughts and ideas, I would have to eat my words. If you, when talking about these poems, just ask for people's thoughts rather than saying "Say how this poem inspires you to think about how to change your worldview", you've probably got a class that I'd consider a very good one.
That said, it seems more to me like you've got a very "hoop-filled" class. It isn't your fault by any means, but the ultimate goal is to "make sure the students write like a graduate" rather than "forge students into people who are thoughtful and capable of expressing themselves".
If you wrote big long fake paragraphs, you'd have to do it over. I hate big long fake paragraphs
The contents aren't fake, they are constructed. Fake, here, means the paragraphs were written with a general mindset of contempt. "I don't want to do this but I have to so here's some stuff". "Oh, hold on, not at the word count, lets add a paragraph". Where I might say "I see what the poem is trying to get at, but it is very ineffective at inspiring any idea of making my mindset change." I will instead say crap along the lines of "The poem inspires the mind to change by drawing analogies to the scenes around the main character, and draws attention to how who you think you are and who you actually are tend to be different."
It would depend on the class, but you just kinda follow along with the things you are told to see and observe, and viola! A good grade comes to you. You don't have to think, you just have to adopt the point of view the class wants you to take.
My requirements are that students be able to write and speak at a graduate level
Your link seems like a really really low bar for graduate level writing. I guess you deal with people who pass under that bar, so it's understandable, but my assumption about "graduate level" is that "use proper grammar" is a given.
I have to abandon this thread now. I've left myself open, bleeding, and vulnerable.
Yeah, I didn't think too much about what I said here, considering this is kinda your life and possibly your passion. Sorry if I fucked anything up for you, and I am sure that whatever you are doing it is beneficial in some way. Being critical and tearing stuff down is easy, you've got the hard job.