When I’m teaching, I always begin class with silent writing time-for my students and for me. I spend time thinking up different questions to put up on the board each day to inspire writing, but I don’t require students to write about those questions; they are always welcome to write about whatever they want.
For the most part, they choose to write on one of the two questions I put up with one or two exceptions of students who arrive with a clear idea of what they want to write about. Once they believe me, about every class starting with silent writing time, they branch out into their own ideas. Even with their self-distractions that also distract me, I keep my head bent over my writer’s notebook and write. Eventually, they give up and write too.
Teaching freshmen starts out very similar to pre-school. They come from structure to freedom and many are not mature enough to handle it at the beginning. It is more pronounced after lunch, when I teach, because for the first time they can leave the campus for lunch-and they do. I’ve had one particular young man who tries my patience with a mouth that continually runs with no filter and little boy lack-of-coordination in a big body. When leaving his desk, he cannot simply walk to the trash can, but must kind of do this sauntery, side-stepping dance with turns and many odd noises.
His choices have given him plenty of opportunity to spend quality time with me, after school. But oh, his writing. “What super power would you pick and what would you do with it?” was the question on the board. He wrote about how he would have a magic touch that would turn everyday and ordinary into a beautiful kind of party where everyone in the whole world would be able to live in a happy land of grace and awesomeness. I was captivated. And here is how it ended:
“And then I wouldn’t have to put up with Ms. G anymore.”
The class took a huge collective breath and looked from him to me. I said, “Wow, that is the most creative super power I’ve ever heard. Thank you. And, the bonus is, I will be gone tomorrow so you won’t have to put up with me.” He smiled and did that thing with his fist that says, “Yes! My super power worked.”