“Responding to students’ papers is like composing, like looking at the mess of my experience and ideas and trying to tease some patterns and order out of it. When I’m responding, really responding to a student’s mess of a paper, I’m thinking like a writer: figuring out what I have to say about the paper, and what the audience (the writer) likely will think/feel/do if I say it like this. Or if I say it like that.”
And so spring break comes to an end in Western New York. I’m grateful to have spent much of mine reading and playing and resting with my family. I also spent some time lurking around in the English Companion Ning, participating in some conversations and simply listening in on others. I’ve found myself completely absorbed by the discourse provoked by Maja Wilson as she has facilitated the ECN Book Group. So many of us are asked to wrestle with rubric design and with the implementation of them as “grading tools” that it is easy to overlook potentially higher purposes, which have more to do with perpetuating learning and growth.
The statement above tugs at my heartstrings a bit. I’m reminded of some of the best teachers I’ve had– the ones who gifted me with their feedback so that I could refine my own work. As Wilson illustrates, generating the right words for such a venture is a process in and of itself. It isn’t easy, and maybe it shouldn’t be. Thinking about the work that our students produce and thoughtfully constructing the response we provide allows us an opportunity to learn as well. Maybe that’s the “back end” of the writing process—the part that we don’t often consider. Perhaps the writing our students do isn’t merely about them or their development as learners. Maybe it’s about ours as well. Maybe that’s why it is so worth it to do what we do.