Feedback and Tears (but not because of meanness…)

I had a bit of a teary-eyed moment in the classroom yesterday. Actually, this was my second teary moment this week – but who didn’t get teary watching America swell with Hope during the inauguration on Tuesday? Yesterday’s teariness, however, had nothing to do with politics or presidents.


Yesterday I decided to share with my students the very rough beginning of the new story I’m noodling around with (currently called: the-book-about-alliteration-mixed tapes-leukemia-superstitions-MacGyver-and-cheerleading … I need a better working title). They’ve been struggling within their own feedback groups – too afraid of offending each other to offer any useful feedback – and I decided that this needed skill to be modeled.


I’ve shared with them before, little pithy things I’ve written while they write, but never something big. Never something that I hope to turn into a book. So, it was with a stuttering pulse and tightened throat that I read the first three pages of TBAAMTLSMC (really need to shorten that!).


And their feedback – wow – this is a group of excellent readers, but they still blew me away with their insight and suggestions. Their predictions about what would happen let me know things I’d given away too early versus misdirection that could work. Their discussion of the mood of the story and their analysis of the characters let me know I was on the right track – they’d made the inferences and connections I had hoped.


When they dispersed to go off to their own feedback groups, the conversation was richer, more specific, and flavored with helpful criticism. They got it.



The moment that made me teary occurred hours later, during dismissal when I only had one student left. His bus had been called and he’d started out the door, then turned around and came back to my desk. “Mrs. Schmidt, I really think you should get that book published – when it’s done. And… I’m proud of you.”

Here my inner cheeseball nature comes out:  these are words I normally say to him (and all my students), hearing from his eleven-year-old mouth made me remember how powerful these words are.  *tear*