My mother is an English teacher.  When I was young, she often read my writing.  She used to mark up my drafts and help me revise.  It was never a painless process, mostly because I felt very protective about my writing.  As I’ve grown, I’ve become less sensitive and gained a thicker skin because there is room for improvement in every piece of writing.

However, I specifically remember one time in 6th grade when I was very defensive about my writing.  Our assignment was a personal narrative and I chose to write about a school mixer the week before.  My mom critiqued the organization of my paper.  She suggested that I rearrange some of the sentences to make it chronological.  I got pretty upset.  Tears and everything.  She wasn’t harsh about my paper, but I felt like the essay was an extension of myself, so when she criticized the paper, she was criticizing me.  I actually felt physical pain in my stomach with each new suggestion she made.  Each mark represented another reason why I wasn’t good enough.  I now realize that when she touched on ways to improve my paper, she wasn’t critiquing me as a person.  

Of course I’ve matured and I’m sure most people we tutor will understand that when we evaluate certain aspects of a draft we are not judging them as people.  The tutee can sometimes feel vulnerable in a tutoring setting, because their work being scrutinized.  Writing can be so personal, and we must be cognizant of this fact when reading through people’s drafts. 

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See how well we get along now? My brother was upset he didn’t get a crown though.

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