The first few days of school always find me talking more than I want to, and that is coming from someone who loves to talk. Adjusting to being up early in the morning, being in uniform, and sitting in desks again after the relaxation and fun of summer is enough for my students without having to listen to me prattle for fifty minutes about class polices, course overview, and school rules. Yet, some conversation about what we are doing and how we will do it in my class is necessary. Particularly since my students are freshmen, I feel obligated to help orient them not only to my class but also to high school in general.
With that in mind, I wrote a piece for them which I include in the class policy folder entitled “Success in English 9”. The following is an excerpt of what they’ve heard me teach ( or preach! ) in the first few days of school.
English 9 is the foundational year of high school English studies. Grades this year are part of your official transcript that will accompany your application to college. While you should strive to do your best and aim high, you should also realize that you are now in high school and the level of expectation is rising. An “A” may not come as easily as it once did. You will find the course to be challenging, but if you work hard and do what is asked of you, you should have success.
Our school is college- preparatory. This class will run like a college English class, bearing in mind that you are freshmen and we have some training to do. Primarily, we will read, write, and talk about what we read and write. In doing so we will strengthen our critical thinking skills, reading and writing skills, and speaking and listening skills. Writing will be process-oriented; therefore, not every assignment will reach a “finished” point, yet others will be revised several times before a final grade is given.
…Critical to this first year of high school English is the ability to manage your time and discipline yourself regarding your academic life. You play the way your practice. Whether in sports or on a musical instrument, you will perform no better than your daily drills. You should not expect to make an A when your homework average is 75% or your thesis statement was written at break on the day you were to write an in-class essay. Our class will be process-oriented. Step by step we will accomplish big tasks. Discipline yourself to do the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Limit yourself during the week on TV, gaming, Facebook, and texting. While these can be fun, they can distract from your studies. Discipline yourself to read and do homework first. Being a student is your vocation. Think of it as your job, just as your parents have jobs. When the work is done, then you play.
(P.S. Your parents have completed ninth grade English. This is YOUR job; not theirs!)