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