Hello comma splices, disagreeing subjects and verbs, unfocused paragraphs, and triple spacing. Haven’t I seen you all some place before? The semester’s first (second, third, and fourth) assignment, perhaps? Could I get you all a drink? I sure need one.
It was the semester’s final assignment, so I kept my commentary brief to speed up the review process. However, the sun had set by the time I was done, and I was pissed. I went on my usual rant of wasting my time and being under-appreciated. And then I remembered my personal challenge to do something nice every day before December 25, and got really, really pissed off.
Nice move to post it on Facebook, dumb ass, I thought. The day’s over. Who the hell are you going to be nice to?
It seemed natural to give up on the day’s nice-act goal, and blame my students. Doctor Berger always reminds me to take a deep breath when I’m stressed so I can assess a situation rationally. I almost inhaled the couch, but Rational Nancy began to emerge. She’s the more generous side of me who recognizes that my students don’t sit at their computers and say, “Ha, how much can I muddy my thesis and defy the rules of grammar to push that Mendez-Booth over the edge?” Rational Nancy knows that each of them has made progress, and how much a positive comment means to them. I remembered one student who told me the positive feedback on his work made him believe he could write, unlike how he was made to feel in high school.
It was dark outside, but the day was not over. I sat at my desk again and wrote a final summary on each student’s paper. They’ll leave freshman composition behind on Thursday, but I want them each to remember what their strengths are and where they’ve shown the most progress. Daily-nice-act goal or not, it’s just the right thing to do.