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Final Workshops

As an office-less adjunct, I have traditionally shied away from one-on-one workshops about writing with my students. It takes a huge amount of time to do, especially since I and my students are generally on the campus only at night. I know the value of such personal feedback, though, so in the last two semesters I have experimented with ways to make it work.

So now we lose one week of whole-class instruction to make way for individual time with the final paper, a purple pen, and me. Instead of our usual 2 hours 40 minutes of class time, meeting with everyone who chooses to (about two-thirds) takes about four hours per class.

I’ve got to say, this last round of workshops was highly gratifying. I saw such improvement in my writers. Not perfect papers by any means, but evidence of students ready for English 101 in the fall. They’ll be well equipped for the next step in their education.

I worry sometimes whether I’m adequately preparing these developmental English students for the courses that follow. I try to touch base with them once they’ve left, and ask for feedback. Face to face, reading their culminating work, I feel pretty good about things. My courses demand a lot of writing—that old thing about practice makes perfect isn’t exactly true, but you definitely can’t improve without practice.

Seeing the work pay off is the highlight of my semester, but students have such bright smiles when they see how far they’ve come. This is definitely worth whatever time it takes.

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