“When Are We Going To Do English?”
Early in my teaching career, I taught high school English in a tenth- to twelfth-grade high school; my tenth graders came to me from our junior high—so my class was their first high school English course. I often learned as much from them as they from me. One year, well into the first nine weeks, a young lady in my class could no longer contain herself. I believe I had returned essays and we were discussing those papers. “When are we going to do English?” she exclaimed. At first, I was completely puzzled both by her outburst and the question.
“What do you mean?” I said. “We have been doing English all year.” This student was not receiving the grades she had in English in her junior high years, where she had been a straight-A student. She was having trouble adjusting to my marking and grading their essays, along with requiring and allowing several rewrites. My assumption was that many of them would eventually earn B's and A's, but I worked hard to move their concern away from the grades and toward improving as writers.
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