Writing Comments on Students Paper by John Bean.
Intensions are an interesting thing considering we only know what our own intensions might be. How that is translated to the receiver is always in question. I think that is why during a conversation or discussion the question of “do you understand?” is always appropriate.
I read this paragraph on page 2 and literally had to sit on it for several minutes. ” We know what we mean, and we know the tone that we intend to convey. Often, however, students are bewildered by our comments, and they sometimes read into them a tone and a meaning entirely different from our intensions.” I went back and remembered some of the comments I did and didn’t receive on some of my papers in the past. Some being so vague I almost wonder if the teacher actually read the entire piece, or was that one liner for one specific part of the paper. So many questions occurred which usually left me more confused. Was it good or not? Is really what I want to know, and if its good tell me how to make it great. If it’s not please teach me how to do better. A lot of the time as student writers we are conflicted into writing how the instructor wants you to write and writing how you want to write. The way we meet in the middle is start off by hitting the points your instructor advised, follow up by adding in your own spin to it, in order to get your authentic voice out on the paper. At least that is what I have always done, I find that most helpful to stay true to myself and also give the instructor the opportunity to find any area that I can improve on.
So many times I would read feedback in the tone I feel it might have been presented in a negative light because of my own assumptions. The earliest I can remember when teachers started to leave one or two liners of feedback it didn’t make me feel like I needed to do real work to put a good paper together. In my mind according to those two liners I was on track. I am also 100% sure that there has been several times that I also misread a comment on some of my work. Anytime I am writing a creative story and it is being shared, if something such as the character or scene is being questioned or a suggestion is being revealed I almost always misread the tone. It could be a personal thing that I feel I have the right to take it personal considering this is my own personal work.
” You haven’t really thought this through” written by a teacher is probably one of the most insincere comments ever. I think a better note would be something along the lines of, ” I want to better understand your point of view.” That way what ever the student was trying to say but probably couldn’t articulate it through their writing could be discussed and the teacher could teach the student how to format it better. I believe sometimes certain comments can create a hostile teacher student environment.
Overall it’s clear that language and tone plays a huge role in the communications between student and teacher. I am the type of student who enjoys getting positive feedback, but I am open to constructive criticism. In my opinion if I am not getting the specifics then how do I ensure that I am getting all the information needed to succeed. I believe it is the teachers duty to determine what type of student they have and what is the best way they will benefit from the feedback. It is possible that with some students negative feed back from a teacher could result in an extreme case of little to no confidence.
Considering I haven’t been through any professional training regarding teaching I do find it helpful that this piece gives a nice guide on positive and negative teacher responses when it comes to meaningful revising. I have confidence in saying I will refer back to this once its my time to shine in front of the classroom.
Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out three forms of judgement: by Peter Elbow.
Pretty ironic that I read this second, and for me it coincides with my exact sentiments above. Which I am not surprised considering I usually side with Elbow on many of his other think pieces. His description of ranking vs evaluating pretty much sums it up for me. Ranking makes things seem as if there is a competition or a winner and a loser in this. The winners receiving the one liners of ” great job” and the losers seeing “Did you not understand the assignment?” Totally understandable why he doesn’t like it very much. However, when we are referring to evaluation, giving the students a thorough look at their work and when the teacher replies with valuable feedback it is a win win for everyone.
Elbow pointing out students actually asking their teachers what do they want for an A is literally what I stated above when speaking on how students will write a paper in the way to please the instructor. That brings me way back to the banking method of just telling the students what to write and not how to write. Justifying grades by leaving a comment for me is only helpful. If I receive an A then its an A, however anything below that I am going to what an evaluation on how can I improve. Of course too much of something can be looked at as a negative, as he also mentions when it comes to evaluating. Elbow brings up an interesting view point when it comes to cheating. He believes that there is more cheating from students who typically receive higher grades due to the ranking process. He believes that if that is not fully but somewhat omitted a lot of issues would go away.
A surprise moment within this reading was when he began to speak on liking. Liking your own work is genius. If you are the writer that I think you are then there has been several tear downs and ripping your own writing to shreds. I think we should all agree to ending that method. “Only if we like something will we get involved enough to work and struggle with it.” Almost sounds like that relationship you want to work through but the key is work through. Can you imagine creating a master piece of your own and you don’t like it! I can take a wild guess that an author not being pleased with their own work will translate on to the pages. Bottom line is like it and fix it.
Overall I am happy that Elbow made his points clear and gave solid reasoning for his views. I believe both of these readings are not to criticize teachers but to look in the lens of the student. I am actually looking forward to reading the blogs of my classmates who are educators and their view points on both readings. It will be very interesting to see their point of view considering they are already in the mix of some of these grading practices.