Just about exactly a year ago, on a very similar, magnificent, not-quite-fall Sunday, I spent hours reading and commenting on students’ first real writing piece for me: Letter to My Future Self, which was also a letter to me, as a way to get to know them.
There were a lot of letters – 67 of them, to be exact. There were anecdotes, there were confessions, there was sharing. And lots of it. My job, as I saw it, was to give back specific, positive responses in areas where I saw commonality. It was bridge-building. And it always worked.
Except that, as always, these letters came in just as the weather was its very best. And I couldn’t stay cooped up inside.
So out I went, with my cold brew coffee and a breeze in my face, to find a way – or more than one – to connect to each student, figure out a grade to give that would be fair for an early writing with no real teaching, and, to be honest, TO GET THEM DONE, JUST DONE, and not freak out completely knowing that it was only September, with many more writing pieces to go – with this, the easiest of them all, that would still take hours and hours and hours out of my life.
But it was a perfect fall day. And behind some of these letters might be a few students who would change my life. And maybe, behind those same letters, or others, there would be some students who would be changed by me.
I picked up my pen and continued on. Because, really, what else could I do?