Compliments Versus Feedback

Something Stacey has made me think more deeply about is complimenting student writers. (Much of my learning & prodding to think about this topic has been through reading her drafts for the book.) I’ve always tried to use a compliment to push into a teaching point, but Stacey has helped me consider this idea on a deeper level.

However, I’m not sure the word compliment is quite right. Compliment makes me think of praise. Praise makes me think of external motivation and Alfie Kohn. Alfie Kohn makes me think of authentic learning. Authentic learning makes me think about giving specific feedback on writing so students can realize the work they are doing as writers and feel proud of themselves, intrinsically. (Can you tell I just read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fifteen minutes ago?)

Stacey has challenged me to think about giving specific feedback to students.  Yes, that’s a more accurate statement.

One of the reasons I love Slice of Life Challenge is because of the feedback I get on my writing. The compliments are nice; however the specific feedback is even better. I’ve decided to track the kinds of comments which stick with me this month. I want to notice the kinds of feedback I find most valuable in order to lift the level of my feedback to student writers.

I’ve also decided to practice giving specific feedback to other Slicers this month. I’m planning on using the comments I receive on my Slices as mentor texts for the comments I leave other Slicers. Being able to experience life as a writer, within a writing community is an invaluable experience. I encourage you to take advantage of it this month and leave specific feedback for other Slicers. Even if you aren’t “Slicing” yourself, you can still be a part of the writing community by checking out some of the slices (just click on the comments at the bottom of each day’s Slice of Life Challenge post to view all of the links) and leaving a comment.

One more note: Years ago, when I first entered the blog world I was nervous about leaving a comment on strangers’ posts. I felt like I was invading their privacy. Now I realize bloggers are putting their thoughts and stories out into the world in hopes that others will respond. Comments fuel bloggers. Specific feedback fuels writers.

Be brave and comment. 🙂