I'm in the midst of giving and grading finals and saying goodbye to totally awesome students...and struggling with the less awesome students who waited till the last minute and are now trying to turn in assignments from earlier in the semester (which I don't allow).
One student in particular is from Vietnam and has been in the US for a relatively short time. English is her second language, and she works very hard in her classes to understand nuances of the language. Her written work is terrific, and she always aces the quizzes.
Her biggest struggle was when I showed the film Nell in class and a reflection paper was required afterward. She had to rent the movie and watch it a few more times to get all the little, easily misunderstood language issues.
She is very quiet, and utterly respectful of her professors in a very formal way that I don't see from my students who have been in the US for some time.
Yesterday after the final quiz, she came to me to thank me for being her professor this semester. She learned a lot, she said, and she appreciated the opportunity.
She also mentioned that she appreciated the positive comments I put on the students' papers when I grade them. It gave her encouragement, she said. Most of her professors grade her written work but don't give her any positive feedback to offset the constructive criticism (not that I could find much to constructively criticize...her work, as I said, was top notch).
I don't understand why teachers wouldn't take the time to come up with at least one positive comment to go along with the negative that is a part of the grading process. Why focus only on what they do wrong, and not also highlight what they do right?
I wouldn't feel right turning papers back to the students without both.