Writing Diagnostic - Ms. Thalmann`s Website

Name ______________________
Date ______________________
Period ______________________
Writing Diagnostic
Write a friendly letter to me (Ms. Thalmann), introducing yourself to me just as I introduced
myself to you. You may include any information that you would like for me to know about you.
You may consider (but do not have to include):
 your school background
 family/pets
 hobbies, sports, and interests
 things you like/things you hate
 future goals
Your letter should be about five paragraphs and should include all the components of a friendly
letter: date, salutation, body, and closing.
You may use the space below for prewriting (outlining, web, etc.), but you are not required to do
any prewriting if you would prefer not to.
August 18, 2014
Dear students,
The beginning of the school year is all about first impressions, and after yesterday, all of
you have formed some thoughts about me. I know a lot of you are thinking, “Wow, she talks a
lot.” Some of you sitting near the front may have noticed the cat hair on my clothes and assumed
that I’m a crazy cat lady. I do actually have two cats, although I’d prefer to believe that I’m not
crazy. Others may be wondering if Miss Keith is my sister. For the record, we are not related in
any way. Regardless of your first impressions, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce
myself in a little more detail to you, and in the process I hope to eliminate some of the questions
that students ask me every year.
One question that I am always asked is “Why did you become a teacher?” It’s not
because I enjoy torturing adolescents, and it’s certainly not for the money. I went to school in
Pasadena. I was not a Marshall Eagle; in fact, when I applied to Marshall, I was rejected. I went
to Burbank for elementary school, then Eliot, then Muir. I had some fantastic teachers, some
mediocre teachers, and some awful ones, and I always thought I could do much better than some
of my teachers did. After graduating from Muir, I attended Pomona College, where I majored in
English. I love reading literature and writing about it, and after I graduated, I decided to teach
that love for English to others, just as my favorite English teachers had. I earned my credential
from Cal State Northridge and my Masters from USC, and although I’m finished with school for
now, I know that I will continue learning in some way for the rest of my career.
Another question that students like to ask me is what I do in my free time. Let’s be clear
about one thing: I do not live in my classroom. I do not open a trapdoor and crawl into my
coffin at 3:05. I have a life outside of school, and while I prefer not to run into you at Target or
the grocery store, be aware that it may happen. I read a lot, and sometimes I procrastinate on
grading your papers by reading. I read a lot of young adult literature, and I also am a big science
fiction/fantasy fan. While I would love to say that TV is evil and that you should never watch it,
I watch TV regularly as well, sometimes shows that are so trashy that I am embarrassed to name
them in this letter. Finally, I play a lot of soccer, which brings me to students’ final common
“Ms. Thalmann, why do you have huge bruises on your legs?” I will sometimes hear.
While I am a klutz and occasionally run into things all by myself, the answer is usually that
somebody kicked me in a soccer game. I play four days a week in an adult recreational league in
the Pasadena area. Believe it or not, your sports career doesn’t have to end when you become an
adult. I played soccer throughout middle school, high school, and college, and after my last
college game, I assumed I was finished. After taking two or three years off, though, I realized I
missed playing, and I found the league that I’m in now. Soccer is my way of relieving stress and
maintaining my sanity, and I would be a much grumpier person without it.
You will of course learn other things about me throughout the year, such as how irritable
I am if I haven’t had my coffee yet and how much I love poetry, but I think those are the most
important things to know at the beginning of this school year. I look forward to getting to know
all of you in return!
Sarah Thalmann