It takes awhile to leave constructive feedback on students’ writing. Sometimes it’s one of my least favorite grading tasks to complete. I often wonder if students even pay attention to what I put down. Normally I ask them questions, leave little notes about something specific they wrote, or share a story from my life that relates to what they wrote. Telling them how they hit the targeted topic/strategy and giving them more ways to improve are also topics I write about.
Recently my students completed a fractured fairy tale writing. They prewrote for about two days, then we worked on rough drafts for roughly four. Finally, they went on the computer and typed their stories. (After all – one of the 6th grade Common Core standards states that students will be able to type at least three pages in one setting) So overall we spent about two weeks on this writing project, which is one of the longer writing assignments we’ve had so far this year.
Here’s where I have to make a confession. I did something horrible with this round of papers. I’d looked at them so much throughout the entire process that I didn’t leave feedback on the final writings. I took a look through everyone’s final typed copy, put grades in the gradebook, and then I handed them back to the students without providing any feedback or giving it a second thought.
When my students came back into the room, one of my boys immediately went to his mailbox and asked, “Where’s the feedback?” I simply stated that I was behind on grading and that I knew they had all done a good job. His response? “Oh.”
That one little word, combined with the look on his face, about broke my heart. I could tell that this kid truly looked forward to reading my feedback on his work. His face was saying “Why didn’t she comment? Does she not care? Was my writing that bad? What did I do wrong?” I felt – and still feel – horrible for taking the shortcut.
This one moment of laziness has me still kicking myself. All of these times where I thought students could care less about feedback, I was wrong. They do care. No, they don’t always let us see that. But they do read what we write. Heck, they even take it to heart. Lesson learned. My kiddos have received and will continue to receive feedback from here on out. Yes, it takes longer and makes grading more of a pain. But if that’s what it takes to connect to even one student and make them feel worthwhile, then I’m going to do it!
What type of feedback do you leave on student work? Have you ever had one of those moments that changed your perception like I did? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!