1st day: a letter to myself in 1987

Some quick context: In my awesome CO301D class this morning, we’re writing Morning Pages, and I’ve suggested a prompt to write a letter to your future self on your first day of teaching. (Full disclosure: Not my idea. I stole it from this Soul Pancake video.)

Since I’ve been teaching for a while now (ahem. since 1987), I’ve decided to write back to myself instead.

Dear Cindy,

This morning, you feel so scared and full of hope in equal parts. It’s almost like you sent an invitation to this really big part, and the people you invited actually showed up. Of course, they’re all 14, which is kind of weird, but they came, and so you get to welcome them to this, the first day of their high school career. Chances are they feel scared and full of hope, too, so you have this in common.

You’ve decided to start your first day the way you hope to always start your first day, that is, after the announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom, by asking them to write.

It’s a brave thing to do, and probably not something they’d expect since most first days start out with reading the course syllabus and talking about your policies and the class rules. You’ll do that, too, later, but for now, you express (probably in a shaky voice) that you already see them as writers, and you’re confident that if they don’t see themselves like that already, they will by the end of the year. You provide a prompt, then ask them to take out their pencils and a notebook and start writing. You do the same. And when you glance up every now and then, most of them are writing, too.

At that moment, you’re thinking, “Wow, the day has come. I’m a real teacher.”

If I could be there, too, I’d say, “And you know what? Thirty years later, you’ll be a teacher, too. You’ll be writing Morning Pages with your students. Only now, the only sound you’ll hear in the room is them clicking away on laptops. You’re still writing with them. You still love this job. You’re still filled with hope and fear in almost equal parts, though ‘hope’ is at the front of that phrase now.”

I still love the sound of writing, and I’m still glad I’m here.




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