The beginning of the school year is so full of promise. I like to start the year off with, you guessed it, silent writing. I introduced myself and set them to writing on half sheets of colorful (as colorful as district paper can be) paper. The prompt was simple: what do you know about? What people, places, games, sports, hobbies, animals, foods, anything do you know about? Are you an expert at Kick-the-Can or Dr. Mario(yes these both date me)? At Uncle Fred or Grandpa Jed or your best friend, Jaime? Do you know horses or dogs or fish? Can you describe your favorite places on the planet and how they’ve made you who you are? What do you know about?
They didn’t move. “Uh, do you mean just make a list?” “Yep.” “Do we have to write in complete sentences?” “Write it however you want.” “What about capitals?” “Just write.” They wrote. It was completely silent.
When the time was up, I explained that this was how we would begin class every day and that time was sacred, holy even and they should take advantage of it. Many ‘Is she for real’ stares. Then I went over our plan for the year and my
expectations of what it means to ‘live’ in a classroom community with Mrs.G. I told them that as far as I was concerned, we were all starting at square one because I had no idea what their previous reputation might have been. This is a new beginning, a chance to be who it is that you really want to be without any past baggage. They could leave all of that at the door when they walk in, and if they really wanted to hang on to it, it’d be there at the door as they walked out and they could pick it up again and take it with them. Several of them glanced over at the door.
It’s going to be a fine year.