Next Monday, 8 a.m., is my favorite teaching moment of the year, the first class on the first day of college for my students. They shine with bright expectations of the adventure ahead. This year I will shine, too, with expectations of how I can help them see themselves not just as students, but as writers. I started thinking about that transition in my study of the Common Core Standards this summer. A phrase from the introduction to the Common Core really resounded with me. The sentence read, “They [college and career ready students] respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.” That’s a description of a writer. That’s what I want my students to become.
Later in the summer, as I was assessing first-year ePortfolios, I read reflections that sounded like writers reflecting on their writing. The writers talked about responding to different audiences and purposes. They used words like “context” and “strategies.” But I also read reflections that sounded like students reflecting on their coursework. They talked about projects and grades and used phrases from the classroom, like “the instructions were” and “the instructor said to.” As I thought about those ePortfolios, I was reminded that one of my primary tasks is to help those students, from the very first day of college, cross that bridge from being a student who writes to being a writer who writes.
So that’s my goal for this year, and I’m using the picture above of architect Philip Johnson’s glass house as inspiration. Rather than feeling walled off inside the red brick walls of their classroom and their campus, my students should feel open to the real world, composing not just as students finishing an assignment for a class, but as writers writing to real readers. I’ll let you know how the work is progressing when I see you at Transitioning in September.