Dear Class of 2019,
You don’t know me yet, but I am your 9th grade English teacher. You met me once when I came into your 8th grade ELA classroom to introduce your summer reading project. Since we are basically strangers, today is the perfect day to share with you all promises I aim to keep during our 40 weeks together.
PROMISE #1: ALL of you have the opportunity to succeed in my classroom. It doesn’t matter if you failed English class once before, or if you think you struggle with reading and/or writing. What matters is that you are willing to try. If you try, you WILL be successful. How do I know this? Well, I’ve seen it happen. This is my 14th year of teaching, and I have seen it happen every single year so far. I’ve seen struggling readers and writers get 80s all year long. It can happen! I will do everything in my power to give you what you need to be successful. Maybe it’s a quiet place to work during a Study Hall, or extra help with a writing assignment after school. Maybe it’s a book recommendation or feedback about a graded assignment. I promise you that I will give you my all, but remember, you need to allow me to do so.
PROMISE #2: I will always incorporate CHOICE into what we do. You will get to choose what you want to read, as well as what you want to write about. Great readers are great because they chose to read books they thought they would enjoy, and once they gained confidence in their reading abilities, they tried new genres. The same goes for writing. Many of you may see writing as even more tedious than reading. It’s hard to put a pen to paper–or hands to a keyboard–when you’ve had to write essay after essay about topics your teacher chose. It’s much more enjoyable to write about what you like. There will be many days when I tell you to write about anything, yes, anything you want! We will study the various writing genres, but why not try to write about a topic you like while doing so? You could write about the monstrous bowl of Lucky Charms you had for breakfast, the fight you had with your mom last night, or maybe even your first crush. It’s your choice, so take advantage of that.
PROMISE #3: I will challenge you. You will read and write every day in this class. That statement may scare you, but it shouldn’t since you are given choice. I will push you to work to the best of your ability. I will challenge you to read more and write more than you ever did before. Why? Well, we need practice to become great at something. Think about it. You couldn’t be an amazing basketball player just by showing up to a game, or an amazing trumpet player just by going to band every day. You need to practice at something in order to get better. If you want to stand out in a large crowd, that takes even more time. The same goes for reading and writing.
PROMISE #4: I will read and write too. Yep! I will be reading and writing just as much as you do, and often even more. I do this for many reasons. First and foremost, I love to read and write. In 2014, I read 71 YA (young adult) books, and that doesn’t even count all the picture books I read to my own children, or the educational books I read for professional development. I’ve written numerous blog posts, had articles published, and have written hundreds of journals. I haven’t always enjoyed reading and writing that much, but the more choice I gave myself, the more I grew to enjoy them. Another I reason I do this is so I can help you. By reading a lot, I can suggest tons of titles if you need a book recommendation. I can share the latest and greatest books that have just been published. I can help you find “that book,” which may be the one to turn you into a reader. By writing a lot, I can model my planning process to show you different ways to get your ideas down. I can show you my drafts and how I go about revising them. By modeling the writing process, you will be able to do it yourself.
PROMISE #5: We ALL need to be respectful and kind. Yes I am promising that I will be respectful and kind to you, but I expect the same in return. We will be sharing drafts of writing and books we care about, which requires trust and respect. All of us need to try our best to be positive and polite toward one another. Together, we can create a strong community of learners, and I will teach you how to support and encourage each other throughout the year. With that being said, I know everyone has bad days, myself included. I will try my hardest not to bring my “bad days” into the classroom, and I hope you will do the same. If I am having an especially rough day, I will tell you. Feel free to do the same.
To close, I am truly honored to be your English teacher this year, and I look forward to helping you discover all that you can be.