Freshman Composition is the toughest class I teach. I don't know anyone who teaches it regularly who is ever entirely satisfied with any particular semester. The highest praise I've ever heard has been "It was okay, but . . ." I'm not sure why this is the case, except that there is so much we need to accomplish in just one or two semesters, and because teaching writing is not teaching information but teaching skills and performance, and the same techniques never work quite the same way with different students and even different mixes of students. After a few years one learns never to assume that because an activity was a stellar success this semester it will infallibly work the next. And there is always the matter of which readings will be most accessible, challenging, and helpful for each skill being taught; the book edition is likely different, with one's favorite readings no longer available, or one wonders if the students might respond better to different topics . . .
However, there are of course basic concepts one always addresses; it's the how, not the what, that causes our angst. I developed a basic structure years ago which I find the most helpful in building those concepts over the semester. (There is, of course, no textbook which follows this structure and/or defines its parts the way I do.) So every summer as I plan for the fall, I jot down this structure and then begin inserting specific assignments, activities, etc. into the daily schedule. Usually I'll forget part of the structure at first and have to start the planning over; then during the semester I'll forget that I had a handout or activity that would probably have helped this particular class with some specific skill until we're well past that point. In other words, I'm thoroughly organized but don't always remember that I am.
(I understand this is a quality of intuitive types. It's not bad, really, just inconvenient, kind of like having no concept of time, another intuitive trait I muddle along with.)
But God has a sense of humor. Last week a young lady asked if I could give her some tips on teaching her high-school aged brother composition this summer. Sure, I said, thinking of my well-defined structure; come on by. And then I realized that if I typed out that structure with brief explanations and a list of the handouts and activities that I use under each section, it would be really helpful to her and easy to explain . . . So, yes, after all these years, I am finally actually putting all this in writing so that it's readily available -- to me -- at any time . . . and, yes, I do feel a fool.
It won't make the class any easier to teach. But maybe the planning will take a few minutes less, and I won't forget as many possibilities as I have already available. Now, if I could make myself do the same for the second semester . . . but that might be asking rather too much for one lesson learned, to apply it elsewhere.