I think most would agree that summer is officially over when school begins again; I know my students do. As a writer, I find it much more difficult to balance my work life with my writing life once school starts. Summer was different for me this year too, as I had so many online students working summer school that it was like being full-time. One of my goals is always to have my students see that they are indeed good writers.
I normally begin the traditional school year with those typical first day things: go over the syllabus, the classroom norms, the parent homework, the pass rules…yawn. By the time they come to me in the afternoons, they’ve had this in every class. The one thing I do differently there is to give them homework for their parents. They like that. It isn’t difficult, but it is a way for me to get to know who they are through their parents’ eyes.
I knew I had to do all that first day stuff, but I wanted to start out writing. To be a writer, you have to write, right? But, Ms. G, we haven’t set up writer’s notebooks yet? I plunged in anyway. As my students came in and found their seats, there was a half-sheet of purple paper on each desk and two questions on the board. I didn’t even introduce myself. When the bell rang, I said, “On the piece of paper in front of you, and with whatever you brought to write with, spend five silent minutes writing on one of the questions on the board. Ready…go.” And they did. It was a sweet start to a new year, and sixty-three freshmen writers wrote.