It seems like I have more and more students each year who just don’t fit in socially. They do the most outrageous things to get the attention of their peers and teachers because they are so starved for attention. It’s just that they never consider that most of what they do pushes people away. It’s bravado for the most part because they have no confidence in who they could be.
I’ve found that starting class every day with silent
writing is one way to give them some confidence and some ability to express who they are without any judgement and that includes grammar and mechanics. I have one very special individual this year. He and I butted heads from day one over writing. He refused to write. Period. And every time we ended up in the hall for a private conversation, his loud, unrepentant, and practiced crass voice carried as far as he could make it.
One day, he came in my room to eat his lunch and he’s come in every single day since. Shocked, I asked him what was up. “I just like it in here.” I went back to my writing because I happened to be working on something for my creative writing class. Thus ensued a conversation about writing. I asked him if he could write about anything, what would it be and he told me, “The Walking Dead.” Okay, I say, then write about it. “Really?” Really, I say. I opened the rusty valve and he has written every day since.
When we came back from winter break, I told him he had to branch out some now. He could write about The Walking Dead three days a week and the other two, he had to at least consider my prompt. Deal.