And so it begins. My classroom wasn't totally ready, and I would never be totally ready. And here they come - the 10th graders who become an intricate part of my life for the next nine months - and for years after if the current pattern holds. The first couple days are amazing things. All of your hopes and dreams get met and dashed simultaneously. I loved my students and went home feeling horrible because I hadn't given them the perfect first day that I wanted. But the next day we completed our first activity, and they understood it! They walked away getting my message, that, no matter who you are, you are a reader and you are a writer. A student came to talk to me after school on Thursday, and we chatted for about half an hour. She told me about her home life, her summer program and what books she loved. She shared her college plans and her fears. And when she left my room, I sat back and smiled, feeling like I was floating above all the papers and crap piled on my desk. "This" I thought "is why I teach."