The Power of Positivity in a Writing Class

unnamed-3Five years ago I was lucky enough to do the Oregon Writing Project with the incredible Linda Christensen, and during one of our sessions, a fellow teacher mentioned something about having a 50/50 blend of praise and constructive criticism when responding to student papers. The offhanded nature of the remark made it clear that for her doing this was a given, but I had never thought about how many of my comments criticized negatives and how many praised positives. In fact, up to that point, I’d never really differentiated between the two, as all of my comments had the same goal of helping students grow. But something about her comment stuck, so that night I pulled a stack of exemplars I’d kept from the previous year to see what my ratio of praise to criticism was, and it didn’t take long to see that despite these being model pieces,¬†well over 90% of my comments were either corrections or criticism and some didn’t even have any praise at all.¬† Continue reading “The Power of Positivity in a Writing Class”