Give a girl a compliment that she looks good in pink,she'll wear that color more often. Give a student a comment that their writing is awesome and they'll continue to write just as good.
We've all experienced getting a paper back that has an A, B, C, D grade with no comments on it. Well why not, I didn't just stress over this 8-10 page paper for you to not respond to what I just wrote my heart out for your class. A majority of us may find it annoying. But then you have some teachers who conversate with everything you have to say- agree with your statements, commence you for your effort, compliment on your style. This positive reinforcement is what drives students to feel good about themselves and also allows the teacher to let students know that WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY MATTERS.
The WPA lister this weekend had an overwhelming response to the post: How can I (the teacher) cut back on responding to student writing. This sunday post had about 10 replies by Monday morning. Mostly, teachers were arguing, "DON'T!"
A teacher isn't really teaching or involving themselves until they're writing with their students. I see it as this, you compliment a girl on the color she's wearing and I'm sure that color will be entering her wardrobe much more than before. Same goes for a teacher commenting on student writing, if the teacher has positive insights to add to your paper, it's a huge positive reinforcement to where the student stands in the class. I feel its even more valuable than a letter grade.
Teacher's are letting you know where you stand in your writing by simply having a conversation with you.
It also is nice to know that all those hours you spent writing that paper at least has something to show for rather than a simple "you got an A."
Are some teachers afraid that their excessive comments of greatness will then lead the student to slack off and not try as hard? One of the comments on the list says that students will become too confident with the teacher's feedback. My thoughts on that attitude seems a little like this
We ALL need positive reinforcement in our lives. And if we're paying massive amounts of money to enroll in college courses then what is the risk of writing "too much" on a college student's paper. I want something to show for it, I think we all do.
This blog is a reactionary overview of the daily posts to the Writing Program Administrator's listserv. One day; one blogger; lots of reactions.