For our final week of Teaching Writing, we took time to study and learn about constructive ways to provide feedback for our students, and we tested out our feedback skills by providing feedback on each other’s revision projects. To mix things up, instead of traditional written, annotated feedback (which I am more comfortable with) we were assigned to provide video feedback and revise the work live on camera so that we were able to give our most immediate, honest feedback.
I don’t think anyone would describe me as a shy person, and I do not usually get nervous talking in front of people, but when I launched the screencast and realized that I was not just reviewing a piece of writing from some unknown author, but writing from a friend, Sarah Beth, I was oddly a bit nervous. I was not nervous because I was afraid of what I was about to read or the quality of the writing because I knew her work would be great, but I was worried because I know the time, effort, and heart that probably went into this piece of writing. This sensation was a great imitation of what I will feel when I have writing conferences with my students one day. There I’ll be, sitting with a revision that they have worked hard on, and they were be looking right at me, awaiting my opinion on his or her writing… woah. This video feedback was the first time I have ever felt that way and had that realization. Yes, I’ve edited and reviewed friends’ writing before because hellooo English major (it’s a common request), but this time I realized the weight of revising someone’s revision, especially when I was reading this tediously, well-written piece by Sarah Beth.
Responding via video made me feel oddly exposed, as I mentioned above, but I think it was a perfect trial for the way we will be working with students. It will be even more rewarding in-person with students that you have worked with through each stage of the writing process. The exciting part of revision is the progress and the growth that can be seen over time. The general consensus from all of the authors of this week’s readings emphasized the importance of examining what the student is doing right and what components are working for the piece rather than simply commenting on all of the things that need to be fixed. Consequently, I thought of this sentiment as I completed my feedback video to emphasize all of the great aspects of the revision piece I was reviewing while giving constructive feedback on the parts that could be even better with a little bit of tweaking.
This exercise was beneficial for me as I am beginning to think about the ways I will provide feedback and grades for my students.