Jiminy Cricket!

Samantha Fitch

Okay, so the full disclosure is that this may not be worthy of a “Jiminy Cricket” moment, but I do think I managed to motivate a student for at least a little while, and I’ll take what I can get!

Since I’m teaching ENG 100, I do see a lot of students who struggle with writing. Some of them don’t seem to put in a lot of effort, and they don’t have a high level in terms of writing skill. Of course that is sad and frustrating, but particularly with an online class it’s a difficult situation to change (and yes, I’m still doing feedback to most questions with Panopto, and I’ve had several students give positive feedback, but sometimes that still doesn’t cut it). I have other students who are low-level in terms of writing but who try very hard. One such student turned in his first essay, and I was actually a bit surprised that I couldn’t give him high marks, mainly because he is always very engaged online, and very communicative with me. I know he tries. I gave him his feedback as usual, going over all of his errors, etc. This time he asked even more questions prior to turning his essay in, and yet again, his essay wasn’t an A essay; in fact it was barely a B, despite all the work he put into it. But instead of pointing out all of the errors in the video feedback, I decided to praise him for all of the things he did well- I usually include some praise, but this time I really wanted him to know that I acknowledged his hard work. And his essay, despite its flaws, really was entertaining! Then at the end I gave him two main tasks to work on for his next essay, so it wouldn’t be so overwhelming. The response I got from him really surprised me, as he was so thankful for the kind words and then he went on to say he had tried to fix his errors- and this is even though he knows he can’t turn it in again. This is may seem a small thing, but it’s incredibly important for some students to get that kind of feedback, and I didn’t realize that until now. I’m trying the positive approach for this essay with the rest of my students, as well!

1 thought on “Jiminy Cricket!

  1. I love the good news. You tried something different and got a different result – that is awesome. I feel the smile coming off the page. I try to give at least half positive feedback, and usually it’s the majority, and either way I try to end it on a positive note. Teaching is an art, the most challenging perhaps being able to approach each student on their own terms and give them just what they need. Congrats on the JC moment. I’d call it worthy.

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