Dear Seniors

Ross sent this along. He did the MATCH Teacher Residency last year. He used to blog here. This is a letter to the seniors he's been teaching since September.

Dear Senior,

First quarter was an interesting experience for me as a teacher. I can honestly say without a moment’s hesitation that, as a group, the 12th grade class at X School is the most impressive group of speakers, leaders, and self-advocates that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching or administrating.

That knowledge makes the following fact somewhat hard for me to get my head around: almost all of you possess writing skills that don’t match up with your speaking, discussion, and extracurricular talents. For some of you, it’s not even close.

My great fear is that you get to college without this skill, and it severely limits your options and your potential.

Hm. That sounds too general.

I like that. Ross realizes it sounds ho-hum. So he takes it up a notch.

Try this:

The MINUTE an employer reads “there” instead of “their,” your credibility suffers. The MINUTE a professor reads a sentence fragment, he sighs, shakes his head, and gives your ideas less credit than they deserve.

Once that paper hits the desk, you have NO control over what these individuals think of you. You have no rebuttal to their lowered opinion of your intelligence, employability, or seriousness.

The next seven months are the last time there will be a teacher in your life whose goal it is to help you learn how to get people to take you and your ideas seriously when they read your writing.

I promise to work hard to make sure that every single class, every single assignment, is thoughtfully and thoroughly designed to help you get there. On the next page, please make a list of things you will pledge to do to make yourself the best writer you can be. It is crucial that you get there. Let’s do it.

Sincerely, Mr. T.

We'll check back in with Ross in a month or so to see if he found any effect.