We are 9 days out from the end of school. My wild but wonderful students tried checking out a few weeks ago when our major testing was over. I have continued to keep our schedule going and expect that they be doing their best. No checking out yet! I now have been asking for what I call “your 6th grade work”. Your very best.
We are going to be 6th graders in the fall so we now need to read and write like we are sixth graders. I have been pushing and pushing with each writing assignment. Notebook after notebook gets turned back to them to try again.
I feel like the evil editor. I do not except short answers that don’t make sense, I don’t except summaries that are not connected, or fiction stories that are only beginnings with no story behind them. My students keep looking at me like I am crazy. There are several who are mad, several who threw a fit today and said they were not writing but I stood my ground.
I hid my fears that this was not a good idea, that I needed to be all accepting. All the old feelings of the mean writing teacher came to my head. I sat worrying that I was stifling their writing but – and it is a big but – some of my students don’t make sense when they write, they are not using punctuation correctly, they do not have a clear beginning, middle and end. How are they going to learn if I don’t hold the line and say no – try this again.
So we are trying again and again and again. Today the comment was “What! Are you looking for perfect?!” I said – “Well yes! I am looking for YOUR Perfect! I need your best thinking and writing on everything we do.”
A few would not write, a few sat for awhile and many went at it again to see what they could do to change their work. I worried again but it was to late if I had pushed to hard.
Here is what happened – TD ( special ed student) wrote a summary of random words which I read back to him – he hurried off to re write and came back with four good complete sentences with punctuation. AL ( a good writer to start with) when off with her two page rain story and returned this morning with four neatly handwritten pages. Two other students sat angry in class today but came up during lunch to begin writing and took their writing home to finish.
We are a long ways from perfect but we are once again on our way to making improvements and trying to do our best. I am holding my own and remaining the “mean” editor with lots of praise the minute they make improvements. I guess it is ok to give a bit of tough love when looking for perfect!