I wanted to pull the last point I made in the "Portfolio, FAQ" post out and develop it more. I also wanted you to take special notice of what I say here. It has to do with my expectations of you as a writer at this point in your life as a writer. Here's a more developed statement, and I hope it eases some of your worry about what I expect of you and, more importantly, what you should expect of yourselves:
"You need to remember: you are at the end of a first semester, freshman level writing class. I don't expect you to do everything perfectly or be able to produce fluent, fully effective prose with ease. If you could produce such with ease, you wouldn't need to be in freshman writing.
At this point in your development as a writer, I don't expect you to fully understand or to be able to implement and use every outcome or to write stunning prose. You should still be struggling, pushing your personal envelop, experimenting, and working on writing good, solid sentences and paragraphs. You should be experimenting with learning how to research and write different kinds of documents and figuring out a repertoire of moves which will serve you well in later writing. One of the joys of early learning is the freedom you have to experiment, screw up, and learn from experimentation, all with less costly consequence than the same mistake will have in later life.
Few people do well the first time they try something, and most are struggling the twentieth. They should be. Few things which are worthwhile can be conquered in a semester or a year. You know I believe in a crafts' approach to writing, one where you are always in the process of acquiring new skills as your needs and desires change and mature. I'm still working on writing better sentences, paragraphs, and documents. This continued struggle is part of the fun of being a writer.
I do expect evidence of:
1) substantial work toward producing better, more successful writing,
2) that you've learned the basic linkage between opinion and support,
3) that you understand and have begun to use process writing, and,
4) that you have a budding knowledge of rhetoric.
Most importantly, I expect you to have learned some useful techniques and a process through which you can make yourself a better writer."