When my students submit a draft, I ask them to give me some areas of particular growth that they’d like my feedback on. Here, a couple of my comments in response to a student:
After reading her draft: I would like to see your writing become more sophisticated. I think one place to start is with sentence variety and sentence length. You have lots of choppy sentences that are just…boring. From this draft, I can tell you can write. Now, you have to push your limits. Go.
She asked, “Can you detect my voice in my essay?” [Side note: what a brilliant, BRILLIANT question from such a young writer. My heart, my smile…VOICE?! Remind me to write about what Keith Gilyard said about voice that made everything crystal clear-ish to me about that].
Me: It’s there, hidden underneath some dry language. You actually have a voice that is quite poetic. You’ll develop it this term. It will be fun.
Indeed, it will be–and is–fun. I needed a reminder of the joy I have working with my students. March attempts to wring it from me as it marches forth (ha), but there is such joy in this work…
2 responses to “Conversations with Student Writers”
Your students are made of tougher stuff than me! If my teacher had ever told me my prose was boring, I would have been really upset, lol. Then again, it probably would have pushed me to try much harder.
Yes, Michelle! The context, which I probably should have added, was that this particular student and I have a solid working relationship. She’s brutally honest with me (um, what were you trying to teach us with that lesson? It didn’t work, etc.), and responds with same. A less confident writer, though? Oh no. That would shut them right down. But I do tell them, generally, that essay voice=boring voice, but that they can and will develop other voices. Thanks!