Nothin’ like doing what you ask of your students to increase one’s humility quotient. Last night I presented the first draft of an essay I wrote on Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers,” one of the stories we’ve read. I wrote the essay yesterday afternoon. The article I read by Ronald Barron (“What I Wish I Had Known About Peer-Response Groups But Didn’t,” English Journal) insists that the teacher introducing peer-response groups must use a first draft of his/her own. So I did. I read the piece aloud. Then the class started commenting. May I say that I prefaced my reading with, “I don’t really like this piece. It’s not very good.” Wow. Students really came up with great comments, but I swear, when one guy said, “It’s really more of a summary,” I almost wept. A summary! The kiss of death. I keep saying that students need to be taught how to become skilled readers, helpful peer reviewers, but this class was all over my paper, and they had only listened to me read it one time. I really hated putting my writing out there. I was nervous. I didn’t want to be criticized, even though I knew this was a first draft. I felt much more vulnerable than I thought I would. I’ve got much more respect for my students and what they go through in peer-response groups.
modeling peer-response groups