Student first, everything else after: When you walk into those doors, we are here to do English things, which include reading, writing, thinking, and discussing. We only talk about English things. The only people we talk about are authors and characters. While your outside experiences will enhance our conversations, your job right now is to be a student, and you should tackle that title accordingly.
We are creating thinking structures: In this class, we will read. A lot. We will write. A lot. We will discuss. A lot. We will think. A lot. And all of this in hopes that we turn you into a functioning, decision-making, active citizen. What we are ultimately doing is creating thinking structures and ways in which you view, understand, and interact with the world. The actual papers are minimal to the amount of work you will be doing. Reading, writing, thinking, and discussing are just the modes we use in order to create these structures.
Every voice matters: Embrace diversity. What would have happened without Alan Tourig? It does not matter how much money your parents make, how good looking you are, or how talented you become at your non-student label. We can learn something from everyone we encounter, and every single voice in this classroom matters. Embrace your opinion (but always make sure you have solid evidence to back it up).
Communicate: Sometimes, I will use big words and talk about big concepts that will go over your head. I can’t help it, so please never feel afraid to ask a question—if you are wondering it, there is likelihood that someone else is wondering it as well. Likewise, if there is something going on in your life or you are struggling with something, please let me know. I can kind of read the expression on your face, and can maybe guess if there is something going on, but I certainly cannot read your mind, so please communicate. You will find having good communication skills makes your life significantly easier, so start practicing them now.
Be on the boat, or off the boat; your choice: This is high school, and someday soon, you will need to learn to advocate for yourself and take personal responsibility. I believe in treating my students like adults. It is your choice to not turn in your paper, your choice to not participate in discussion, your choice not to show up to class. We love it and welcome it when you are here, but if you decide to be off the boat, I just ask that you respect your peers who do want to be on it.
Take risks: The best way to overcome your fears is to stand up to them. I will ask you to do things in this class that may seem fearful at first, such as public speaking, working in groups of people you do not know, coming up with your own opinions. But, remember, no one ever got anywhere being afraid.
Hard work makes us better people: If you give humans the option to do nothing all day, they would probably do it. Eating as much as we want, sleeping as long as we want, and staring as mindlessly as we want is certainly easier, but hard work makes us better people. It teaches us to be understanding, to follow through with commitments, to build intrinsic motivation, and feel pride within ourselves. We will do hard work, but I promise, it will be worth it in the end.