Friday, September 11, 2009


Every weekday morning I have to get to a certain place – my school – and I always take the same route. Years ago I learned this route – learned that it’s the shortest path between my house and school, and that it will reliably get me to work reasonably quickly and safely. Now I drive the roads almost without thinking. Because I have faith in the route, getting where I need to go has become an easy and fairly speedy task. I often think of my students as I’m driving to school, for they, too, have destinations they must reach in English class. Each week they must arrive at an understanding of how to construct their next essay, and must make their way, with grace and aplomb, to a final stylish sentence. Each week they must somehow journey to an understanding of new concepts and skills, and must learn what routes to take through the bewildering pages of poems, stories, and novels. Week after week, I place a goal, a destination, in front of them, and it is their job to get there – and that, I’ve always believed, is where I come in. I guess what I enjoy most about teaching is simply helping the students “get there”. Years ago someone told me what roads to take to get to school as efficiently as possible, and, similarly, I try to lay out for my students some reliable routes to success in English class. I don’t necessarily want to make “getting there” easy for the students, but I want to make it as uncomplicated and trouble-free as possible. When I get in my car each morning to drive to school, I know, without a doubt, that I will be successful in getting there, and I want the students to have a similar assurance when they set out to pick their way through a chapter or steer a course through a complex writing assignment. I’d like them to be able to say, “The goal of this assignment is far off in the distance, but, thanks to Mr. Salsich, I know exactly how to get there.”

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