Teaching Up

Sometimes when I’m grading, I think about the point of critique. It often feels like I’m putting students down. Here’s your mistake! Here’s what you did wrong! Here’s what’s missing! 

But then I remember to teach up. Critique is always about the next time, the coming moment, the thing they’ll do better in the future. It’s a way to look upward and outward, not downward and backward. I’m learning to accompany every comment with this beautiful little gem: “Next time, try this.”

I see what you meant here. Next time, try this: 

This will become so much better if next time, you try this: 

It’s another way to shift from shame-based pedagogy to a pedagogy of celebration and hope. Next time, you’ll do it!

I’m also learning to remark on all the wonderful things in an essay so students know to do more of that thing. Positive communication fosters openness, vulnerability, and change.

This right here! Do this more and more!

This right here! Look at this! It’s awesome! 

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