High school English teachers often begin the school year by assigning a personal narrative to their students. A personal narrative is a nonfiction essay about your own experience. Because writing a personal narrative does not require any research or special preparation, it's a great writing assignment to start the year with, and it can give you a sense for how your teacher thinks and grades.

A Teaching Moment

Think about a time when you taught somebody to do something outside of school. Maybe you taught a sibling to tie a shoe, showed a teammate how to deflect a goal or taught your friend how to make chocolate chip cookies. Reflect on the teaching and learning process as you write about your teaching moment.

Good Came From Bad

Recall an event in your life that seemed bad at the time but turned out to be good. Perhaps you got sick right before the concert you'd be practicing for and couldn't participate, but while you were in the hospital, you made a friend who changed your life. Usually, you don't realize the benefits of such situations until later on. After you tell the story, write about how the experience changed you and how you might have missed out on the good if it weren't for the bad.

Personal Rituals

People have all kinds of personal rituals in their lives. Maybe they always read the newspaper during breakfast, prepare for tests the same way or complete their warm-up exercises in a special order before a big game. Think of one particular personal ritual, describe it and write about why it's important in your life. Help the reader understand what the ritual does for you.

Achieving a Goal

Write about a time when you achieved a personal goal. It could have been reaching out to someone at your new school when you didn't have a friend. It might have been earning a particular score on the SAT. Maybe you improved your personal best time in a race. Write about the process of preparing to achieve your goal and how you felt when you made it. Show your readers why the goal was important to you.

Being Unprepared

All people have moments when they're caught unprepared. Maybe you neglected to complete an assignment, study for a test or prepare for a speech, or maybe the moment you think of has nothing to do with school. Write about a specific situation in which you were caught unprepared and describe it vividly for your readers. Include details about why you were unprepared, how it affected you and the aftermath of the event.