Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feedback: Timely, Specific, and Actionable

It has been an incredibly busy season of writing for me lately. My dissertation is coming together, and in fact, I have finished writing all five chapters! That doesn't mean the work is complete, however. There are ongoing edits, and then the preparation for the defense when there is a "final" document ready. But it feels really, really good to be at this point.

The best part of being "finished" is that there now is THE THING that can be addressed for the edits. My advisor has been fantastic throughout this process: he gives me feedback that is timely, specific, and actionable, and the turn-around for his comments on each draft has been amazing. I am able to see the strengths and weaknesses of different sections of my writing, where the ideas are solid, and where I need to rethink things. Each draft I work through is a little better than the last, and I am confident that the next draft is going to be even better than the last one I submitted. (At this point, it feels like there is always a "next draft"...but I know the time is coming when it's going to be good enough.)

My writing's getting worse, but the writing is getting better...

This experience has me thinking about the way teachers provide feedback to their students.

Monday, February 6, 2017


I had a former student--who is now in graduate school herself, and serving as an instructor--message me today with a fascinating question:

Is there such a thing as a student that is unteachable?

My immediate, almost instinctive reaction was, "Of course not!"

But after thinking about it for a few moments...I wonder.

Here's my tentative, pretty-sure-for-now-but-open-to-revision response: