An exchange happened one week that makes me realize that we never know how we may end up encouraging our students!
While grading an assignment I came across one that was excellent. I thought it would make a great example for other students so I wrote this comment on the instructor comment line as I graded the assignment.
My comments on the response part of a student assignment:
You may see this list of questions and answers pop up as an example for the class--I won't have your name listed. This is great note taking.The student sent this E-mail several days later.
Ms. Sohns,The student's note struck a chord with me. It reminded me how much of an impact my words can have. I see the assignments but I don't know the story of the student behind the assignment. When work is weak, I make sure to give encouraging, specific feedback. This exchange made me realize how important the specific positive feedback is. Just because a student consistently turns in good assignments doesn't mean that student is aware that his or her work is particularly good.
I was meaning to send you a message on Friday to thank you for you recent comments on my note taking. It truly means a lot. I think I am getting better at this reading stuff :0) I am truly honored that you are considering using my notes. Again, thank you very much and have a wonderful week.
We need to be constantly aware of what we say to our students. My comments on assignments are a major source of communication in an online class. I realize that I need to tell my students what they are doing well, just as much as I need to tell them what they are doing incorrectly. I can't assume that the A or B student really believes to be worthy of that grade. Like I stated at the beginning, My students often underestimate themselves and need that boost of confidence. And I often underestimate how important my comments are to them.