I’ve been thinking about confidence lately. A student hands me a paper and says, “You are going to love this. This is an A paper.”
He’s beaming. He’s standing tall. He’s not coming off as arrogant or presumptuous either; he speaks like he’s stating a simple fact.
And I get the strangest feeling that he’s so proud of himself that the grade I give the work wouldn’t diminish his joy.
Oh, that we all had that confidence! In my nearly 15 years of teaching, I rarely see this kind of confidence. Instead, I see much second-guessing. Students ask what I think, but they often can’t tell me what they think about their own work.
I want to help students (and my children) grow in confidence and joy in their work–on their own terms. Part of growing up means we don’t always need to ask someone else if this thing we’ve created is good, beautiful, or worthy. We know it is, and that’s part of the process.
I suppose this means providing students with an accurate way to evaluate their work. I suppose this means educators somehow help students internalize the means to self-evaluate.
I’m hoping that more and more I might ask students, “Do you think it’s good?”, and they’ll have an answer. And this answer will hold tight with joy no matter what another person says.
And yes, I still dislike grading (as you might have guessed).