How do I receive an A?

I must admit, I was overly excited to dive into these readings this week! Peter Elbow and John Bean made me reflect on my grade school years, and truthfully, it was not the most pleasant memories in regards to assessments. I have never been a great test-taker, and as the Elbow’s article states, “professions keep changing their minds about large-scale testing and assessment.” 

The first sentence of “Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms Of  Judgement” that struck me was  “Evaluation requires going beyond a first response that may be nothing but a kind of ranking (“I like it” or “This is better than that”)…” I have encountered ranking from not only teachers but my classmates as well. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve swapped paper with a classmate to receive feedback, and I only received “it sounds good.” A simple comment on my work does nothing for me or my writing, but it does make me rethink if you even read my paper. I have also received comments upsetting comments with little to no feedback. I must admit that due to this, I began asking my teachers, “what should I write?” I can recall sitting down with a notebook and writing down everything the teacher relayed because all I wanted was an A. At the time, I didn’t care if I disagreed with the teacher’s viewpoint. I would not only write about what would give me an A, but I would write in a particular style as well. My experience heavily ties with the article’s statement, “But oddly enough, many “A” students also end up doubting their true ability and feeling like frauds-because they have sold out on their own judgment and simply given teachers whatever yields an A.” I do not find an issue with receiving criticism, but educators must work on how the criticism is delivered. Meaningful and through feedback is needed when grading writing. With this also comes rubrics. The article makes it clear that rubrics are often used and are not passed on to students. Shouldn’t students know how they are being graded before they begin writing? While student teaching, I aimed to always go over the assignment sheet while then having the class look over the rubric together. By doing this, students have an idea of how they will be graded, and often times it will lessen the chances of students being confused by their grades if the teacher provides meaningful feedback while attaching the rubric. Although there will be assignments that require grading, Elbow touches on the importance of evaluation free zones.

When reading John Bean’s “Writing Comments on Student’s Paper” I immediately agreed that teachers often “forget these feelings when we comment on student’s papers.” It is easy to get frustrated when a student does not follow the directions, but, significantly, the furstration does not appear on paper when providing feedback. If a student is having dififculty, I agree that there is a distinct way to assist the student. The article mentions that if the students are in the drafting stage, “our role is to coach” while the student has submitted their assignment “our rolde is to judge.” Will you make comments on a draft that does not follow the assignment sheet?  The answer should be no. Being that the statements are not going to assist the writer if they completed the assignment wrong. I think Bean makes a good point that revising “means “re-visioning” -rethinking, reconceptualizing, “seeing again.” It may take students two or three times before they understand what was assigned to them. The article’s last section “Suggestions for Writing End Comments That Encourage Revision” resonated with me from a student standpoint. I have always believed that a teacher’s end comment was the teacher’s way of justifying why I received a specific grade. Now looking back, I rarely received end comments if I received an A. Anything less than an A would warrant a comment. I liked Bean’s three-step template as teachers do not often state your strengths but solely focus on what you need to improve on.

Overall, grading student’s work and providing meaningful feedback that will assist them in improving is still an area that educators struggle with today. Is your comment helpful? Will it steer the student from wanting to write and express their ideas? These are questions that should be kept in the back of one’s mind when reading students’ writing to provide the best feedback.