Maybe it was me. Or not.

December 14, 2009

I really did think it was me.

This semester, my writing class just wasn’t getting it. And since I’ll be taking a year-long break from teaching, I was upset.

Student writing was markedly worse than the writing I remember from other classes. And I’ve taught this for three years.

It’s completely politically incorrect in academic circles to say this, but I do hate to give anyone less than an A- or B+ in my writing class. Because the whole goal is to teach them to write by the end of the semester. Not to punish them.

I know we’re supposed to grade on a curve. But if I have to fail students, then I think I failed to do my job. Which is to teach them.

The thing about writing is that it’s a skill you can learn. At least PR writing. Do it enough times, incorporate instructor feedback and you can’t help but learn it.

If a student gets a poor grade, I do allow rewrites. So they can all learn and apply it. Not just the kids who get it first. So it’s entirely possible someone could officially get an F on a news release, rewrite it and get an A. Because they then have mastered the skill. I have no problem with that.

I usually only need to teach news release writing once in the semester, for about a week. But this semester, I ended up drilling them over and over. And at least 1/3 of the class came for extra help. I’ve never had such a crowd in for help.

At some point, about three our four weeks ago, it all turned. Everyone in the class had improved significantly. Most of the class began doing A work. It was remarkable. It was as if someone turned a switch. That felt good.

And now, as the semester ends, they’ve learned PR writing and we part ways. Me with great memories of some fun student writing (and fun students). Them with solid portfolio pieces to show potential employers.

I don’t know how the magic of learning works. I’m just glad it does.

PS Yes, that post with the homework eaten by our dog was the actual homework she ate. Clean break. She could be a surgeon. And should be, so she can support us in our retirement.

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