punishing everyone

As I was grading my composition students’ second essays, I realized something.  I was making the same comments on these final drafts that I had made on the rough drafts.  How infuriating!  It was just a few students, but still this made me feel like my efforts were being wasted by the students.  I had taken the time to read and comment on (using Microsoft Word review functions) each and every rough draft.  Then, I sent them electronically back to the students.

When I came home, I vented to my husband over dinner and decidedly said, “I’m not doing it anymore. If they want to review rough drafts, they’ll have to come to my office.”

Then, my husband asked me very calmly, “How many are we talking about?”

“Just a few.”

“Wouldn’t you be punishing the whole class because a small minority of the students didn’t do it right?”


I thought about it for a minute and said, “Well, right now I’m mad.  But tomorrow I’ll probably change my mind.”

And I did change my mind.

After all, probably 16 out of 19 students made good use of my feedback and made significant (or at least the important) revisions.  So, that’s actually pretty good.  I had over-reacted, I suppose.

Now, a day later, when I think aobut it it is so interesting how intense my reaction was.  I was so emotional.  I felt betrayed.  I felt my time and efforts were being taken for granted. But I had to realize that I could not punish the whole class because a few failed to utilize all their resources. (And reminded me to focus on the students that are doing well and working hard – help THEM get even better – instead of just focusing on those who are not doing their best work.  It does seem that the “bad” kids get most of the teacher’s attention and those students who follow directions and do fine are neglected a bit…)

And so Husband saved the day – again. 

(I told this story to the students in class today as I handed back the graded essays, and they are eternally grateful to my husband.)


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