Daily Archives: September 7, 2009

There’s One Every Term…

…It may be true that there’s one in every class, but I’m trying to keep a positive attitude about it.

I’ve got a boy in my CHS class who, I think, is going to pose a substantial challenge for me.

Carrie warned me about Andy.  “He’s smart,” she told me, “but he HATES to write.”  In fact, she was surprised that I managed to get a piece of writing out of him in the very first day; it was a truly insubstantial answer to the prompt, but it was in his own hand, and that was something that Carrie wasn’t expecting.

Andy failed to turn in either of the in-class writing exercises we did on Thursday.  These are counted as part of the students’ participation grades and, while they don’t count for much (I don’t edit them or require that they be revised, and they don’t get a letter grade – the students either do them and get full credit, or don’t), they do count.

In an effort to head this kid off at the proverbial pass, I’m extending him an offer of compassionate assistance.  I’m not going to come down on him for not writing; instead, I’m going to ask him to tell me (in writing – aren’t I crafty?) what it is about writing that he finds so distasteful, and what I can do to help him past that particular block.

I transcribed the letter to an email for Carrie, just so we’ve got a record of my efforts to reach this kid, to meet him halfway, and to give him the opportunity to help himself, though me, to pass the class.

Wish me luck.

Dear Andy,

I’m getting the impression that you’re reluctant to write; I noticed that you didn’t turn in either of the in-class writing exercises we did on Thursday.

On the first day of class, you wrote that one of your goals was “to pass this class without struggling.”  Something you’ll need to reach that goal is to practice writing every day.  That writing doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, it doesn’t even have to be GOOD at first – but you won’t find writing getting any easier (or better) if you don’t practice.

I’ll make you an offer: I’ll not count those in-class writes against your grade if you’ll write four paragraphs about why you’re so resistant to writing.  Tell me what about it scares or frustrates you.  Tell me what experiences you’ve had that discourage your writing now.  Tell me what I can help you do – what I can teach you or what conditions I can help you create – that might make you more willing to write.

I want you to do well in this class, but I can’t do it for you.  You need to be willing to do the work and to demonstrate your abilities.  I’ll do my best to give you the things you need to do that, but you need to be willing to work, too.


Mrs. Chili


Filed under about writing, compassion and cooperation, concerns, I love my boss, Teaching