I am teaching freshmen for the first time this year. I had a few of them in my remedial test-prep class when I first started teaching, but never in groups bigger than 10. Now I have my very own two sections of Freshman Lit, with 18-24 students each.
I've been teaching juniors for three years. I had forgotten.
They are small and cute. They ask questions like, "Am I allowed to use this bathroom?" and "How do I get to the Science wing?" They aren't sure of themselves yet, haven't learned to be wary. They participate. They try.
They also, apparently, read. I ask my students on the first day of school to list all the books they've read in the last year, and draw a little face next to each one to indicate how they felt about reading it. When I ask my juniors to do this, brows wrinkle over blank eyes as they scour their memories for American Lit's requirements. My freshmen asked, "Do you mean for school or outside of school?" They made cute little lists indicating what they read for book reports, what they read for class, and what they read at home.
What happens? Do they get too busy or does it get too hard? Do they start feeling embarrassed to admit to reading for pleasure? Do we suck the joy out of it?
I'm afraid of breaking them.