The first day of the new term some of the kids from the previous term stuck their heads in the door to let their friends know what a "cool" teacher I am. They were shocked by my snarl and bark as I sent them away. I guess they don't remember the first day back in the fall...
The new classes were perplexed as we worked from bell to bell on the first day. (Our principal makes sure we have textbooks available-I love him.) The tone has been set, and it's going to be a great spring!
Our first "Read Around" was Friday. Every student has to read aloud something (not an academic paper) he/she has written during the week. I do not assign topics, but we spend a great deal of time discussing ideas and making suggestions and lists. Friday's readings were the best first day papers I've had in the six years I've done this. Several made us laugh so hard our sides hurt, and one or two caused me to pass the box of tissues.
The power of peer reaction never ceases to amaze me. While the majority of the kids want to write their essays well, and they are concerned about grades, NOTHING motivates them as much as how their peers react to their Friday reading. I can't wait to see how much progress these classes make over the eighteen weeks we have together.