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Konrad Glogowski, an elementary-level language arts teacher in Canada, writes that he saw an unusual phenomenon in his class the other day that helped him corroborate his transformation as a teacher: His students were actually reading the comments he had written on the tests he passed back to them.

This wasn’t a coincidence or paranormal occurrence, he says, but the result of a change he has made in the way he responds to student work:

Why were they reading my comments? Why were they so involved? Well, after years of teaching and, what’s even more important, after two years of teaching within a classroom blogging community, I have finally learned to write comments. I stopped writing as someone who dispenses knowledge. I stopped writing as someone who cares only about syntax and organization and who has forgotten what it means to get lost in a good piece of writing. I stopped writing as someone who is reading to assign a grade. Instead, I started reading as someone who wants to learn, as someone who cares about ideas, as someone who wants to join a conversation.

He continues:

Personally, I have never learned anything from my teachers’ checkmarks or their efforts to summarize my work in one banal phrase, such as “Excellent,” “Well done!,” or “Keep up the good work!” I do not expect my students to take my comments seriously if they suggest to them that their work can be summed up in “Great effort!” So, I have learned how to respond to student work by unlearning how to respond to student work. I have learned to abandon my teacher voice and started responding as a reader.
1 Comment

I liked your ideas and feel like you do. I sometimes underline sections and say, "yes, I agree" and make some other comments regarding the sections I underline. Can you give me some of your examples of the types of comments you make. Are you critiquing and both making negative or positive comments? Also, are they making better progress because of the notes?

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