First day of the semester in all senior classes: described the year as a "conversation with yourself" about the future.
To begin that conversation, I put up Friedrich's The Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog and asked them to generate questions to help them make sense of the painting and to connect it to their lives as seniors on the cusp of early adulthood.
The most important test of the first day is the Dinner Table Test, which we had in our house last night. The DTT happens when parents ask what happened at school that day. Stories are told about the teacher, the class, and what they did that day. First impressions—of teachers, students, and parents—are crucial at this stage.
I want students to say they felt challenged, intrigued, and confident they would do work that mattered in the year ahead.
In our house yesterday, the DTT involved two seniors: our son and my mother-in-law (Ann). Whit played it cool senior all the way: nothing to report. Ann attended her first day at a program for seniors at the Center for Aging here in San Francisco. Her day was what most high school seniors wish theirs was like: they sang, played games, talked, were fed a nice lunch, and had a guest come in to sing, accompanied by an accordian, an instrument Ann played as a young girl in the bandstand in Golden Gate Park.
Why The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog? Because we are all seniors this year looking ahead to a future shrouded in fog, through which we move carefully, uncertainly, guided by the faith that on the other side of it is a clarity we can all claim as our own.