Joy in Disguise

Joy in Disguise

dancing for joyThe opportunity for joy often comes disguised as a request for advice. When I refuse to give advice, when I take a moment to ask a question instead, a space opens up to let the joy of teaching in.

A student working on a piece of writing asks, “What should I do? I don’t know if I should explain that Tom is my boss and my uncle right here at the start, or if I should leave it out until closer to the end.”

Or maybe it’s a more mundane question Continue reading

Learning from Our Mistakes

Learning from Our Mistakes

pencilStudents learn from their mistakes, they say.

I agree. They learn something. But often what they are learning is not what the teacher thinks she is teaching.

M. Moriarty said it well in a comment on an earlier post:

To this day I cannot bear a red pen… it signals math failure to me – and try as I might – I never did learn from my many many mistakes in grade school math – what I learned was that I wasn’t very good at math and that after a while it really wasn’t any use to try…. Continue reading

Every Student Cares

Every Student Cares

Frank commented on my post “I don’t give grades” by saying “Agreed – spend more time helping students who care – and waste less time on students who don’t.”

Frank’s comment doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t sort students into those who care and those who don’t care, because I know that every student cares. Continue reading

I Don’t Give Grades…

I Don’t Give Grades…

Early in the term, I hand back their first writing assignment. I’ve made comments on what is effective in their pieces. No one pays much attention to the comments.

Instead, I hear a chorus of questions: “What’s my mark?” “How come there’s no grade here.” “What did I get?”

“I don’t give grades for writing,” I say.

When asked why, I give the real reason: I value my time and effort. Continue reading

A Cheater Learns a Lesson

A Cheater Learns a Lesson

The first time I failed at school I was over 30. Don’t get me wrong. I have failed at many things–relationships, do-it-yourself projects, exercise programs, baking–but I finished school and university with good marks, without doing much work.

So when I found myself in a new city (Vancouver) with no job and few prospects, going back to school seemed like a good idea. I enrolled in a community college program to become a court reporter, and started to fail almost immediately. Continue reading