The 20-Percent Rule of Teaching
At this point, the class suddenly becomes important to them, and it's the portal I wait for, the invitation to begin the 20-percent rule. It's not about failing or grades in general. From that point onward in the semester, I spend about 20 percent of the classroom time about the importance of writing in their lives. Even if they want to become pilots, nurses, psychologists, or whatever, they can never be counted as educated unless they know how to write. I must stress this, and remind them of the stress, about the embarrassment of not knowing how to communicate effectively in their own language. When I do that, I notice a sharp increase in attention. The students are far more aware of the class (meta-awareness) and self-aware of where they should be in four years. I'm not mean about it, but totally serious and committed to having them know with certitude that it's a lie to reckon themselves educated while not knowing how to make a cogent, logical, and literate argument on paper.
I do this, like I said, often, and the results are gratifying. I get more yellow notices from the Writing Center in my mailbox about students coming in. Finally, they're taking the class and themselves more seriously. Now THAT is what makes teaching fun: good response from the students.