The research paper: The end of the semester

The end of the semester is close and the students are getting excited about their summer vacation and for some their upcoming graduation. For me it is that time of the semester when I am reading and grading their research papers. I am always impressed with how hard my students work and the progress they make during the semester. At first, they are hesitant at the idea of a fifteen-page paper, but as we work through the writing process, they are amazed at their end products, a well-written research paper, with a solid thesis, introduction, conclusion, and all their arguments proved.

As I handed back the papers on Tuesday, I told one of my student s that his paper was great and he said to me that no one had ever told him that before. He asked if I was joking, and I said no, all the papers are great in this class, each of you write really well. Another student said she had never made above a C in English. It really saddens me to hear my students ever felt discouraged. How can a student write well if they have been discouraged and think that they are poor writers before they even start their papers?

I like to think of writing as a process and that if I look at what a student does really well and encourage them in the areas that they need to work on without discouraging them that they will learn and thrive in my class. I want all my students to succeed by positive feedback not by red pen mentality.

This particular class is an English Composition II class, so most of the students understand the writing process, but I teach other writing classes too. I take this same approach to encourage my students. For my GED students it means learning to write a well-crafted sentence, then two, and finally a whole paragraph. Before long, they are writing a solid essay, which is critical in passing the GED test.

As an adjunct, a part-time teacher, I am do not have the luxury of spending time in my office to work with students, so I strive to be available during my lunch, before, and after class. I am always pleased that many of my students will come and ask for a little extra help. I so love working with these students. I am always sad this time of year, the semester is ending, and I will have to say goodbye. I know that my students have learned and will go on to write excellent papers for their other classes. I hope my positive outlook on their abilities makes a difference to them; I know their positive response to me makes me smile.

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