One of your main responsibilities as a teacher is to prepare your students to face the real world. You’re encouraging them to gain skills that will help them build successful careers. Writing is one of those skills.
There’s a problem: your students perceive essays as useless assignments. They feel like you’re assigning them with the mere intention to torture them. It seems like you’re the only one who understands how important writing is on any career path. Each and every person in that classroom will be required to write something when they get jobs. Emails, blog posts, business proposals, reports, presentations… you name it. In fact, they will have to showcase their writing skills before they even get a job. The resume and cover letter play a huge rule in the job hunting process.
My experience as a writer for BestDissertation made me realise how serious this struggle is for students. They are not getting proper instructions. Writing lessons don’t belong in the curriculum. Still, teachers give them complex topics and expect brilliant essays every single time. It’s time to start making a difference.
How can you help your students to improve their writing skills? Explaining how important these projects are will help, but that’s not enough. You have to offer practical assistance. I’ll give you five ways to offer the support your students need when writing papers.
1. Offer Feedback through Communication
This is the worst thing about academic writing projects: the grades. This is not the type of grading that’s based on strict rules. There’s no right or wrong. You base the grade on several factors, including the structure, format, tone, reliability of sources, strength of facts, and overall logical flow. When you just give them a grade with no explanation, how will they know what mistake they made?
Communicate the feedback; that’s the least you could do. Explain the corrections you made and give each student individual attention. Tell them how they can improve next time. Remind them that this is just one assignment. The low grade is not that serious; you’ll give them a chance to improve it.
2. Keep Assigning Essays, so You’ll Help Them Develop a Habit
Do you know the ultimate rule for surpassing any kind of fear? Face it! Your students are literally afraid of these assignments. The more you encourage them to face the challenge, the more comfortable they will be with it.
Organise brief writing sessions every single day. Give them an easy topic and ask them to write 200 words in 10 minutes. They will despise this practice at first, but they will be glad you made them do it when they realise they are getting better.
Don’t grade these assignments. You’re doing this to help them practice. However, ask them to share what they wrote and give them straightforward feedback.
3. Give Them Great Examples
If you ask your students to search for examples of brilliant papers, they will probably find the work of Jo Ann Beard, Susan Sontag, David Foster Wallace, and other great essayists. That’s nice stuff to read, but it will only confuse them. It’s not the type of writing that a school assignment requires.
You should be the one providing the samples. You surely have great essays from previous generations. Share them. You can also find relevant samples online. Explain the parts of the essays, so your students will understand how to craft a unique paper out of the rigid structure of an introduction, body and conclusion.
4. Find the Good Things in Everyone’s Work
“Robert, your vocabulary and punctuation are improving. I’d like to see a clearer sentence structure next time.” With this approach, you’re warning the student about the sentence structure, but you’re also giving them something to feel good about.
Always mention the things your students got right when you give them individual feedback. No matter how small that praise is, they will appreciate it. Never focus the feedback around the negative points; such an approach would discourage them from practicing.
5. Appreciate the Effort!
There’s hard work behind every essay your students write. Some of them are great. The others are still not there, but they made an effort. As any other skill, the writing capacity has to be developed through practice. Each new assignment you give is a step forward.
Appreciate the effort your students make. Make them aware of the importance of the journey. Then, motivate them to keep going. When they put hard work into the process, the results are inevitable.
Your role as a motivator is crucial for the writing skills your students develop. You can make a real difference when you shift your approach. Instead of criticising them for the lack of enthusiasm, help them find the motivation they lack!