...as I grade

It's one thing I won't ever forget. Getting back those college papers, with my professors' wisdom scribbled neatly all over my painstakingly prepared words, and seeing the same complaints. Every time. You'd think I learn.

Don't leave a quote hanging by itself. It gets lonely.

Don't end your sentences with a preposition!

Leave the period for AFTER your citation. Do not punctuate within the quotation.

Needs Substance.

(And my personal favorite): No.

While in graduate schoool, this didn't change. In my American Fiction course you were required to read papers out loud - both rough draft & final draft - in order for the class to help trouble shoot. After reading my paper, my professor said "that's one of the best pieces of writing you have done for me, Elora."

I was thrilled! Yes. Best piece of writing. And I wrote some pretty good stuff, mind you. At least in my opinion...

But my sense of accomplishment didn't last very long, because almost as soon as he said those words he said, "just remember to never use that unless absolutely necessary."

That. Bad word. Got it.

I sat down and forgot about it. Or so I thought.

I'm sitting here, grading my students' summer assignments, and it's like a robot has taken over my hands. Things I never think about begin popping out of their words and forcing me to correct or guide or remind them about certain mechanical strategies. I find myself uttering the exact same words as my professors did so many years ago - and Dr. Peterson's advice - albeit short lived and spoken as an after thought, has completely changed how I read, write, grade & listen to people speak.

You think I'm kidding. I can't even read a book without changing the words if there is a superfluous that. Thanks, Dr. Peterson. No really. I've written that very phrase so many times on my students' papers my hand is cramping.

I guess the more I teach, the more thankful I am for being so blessed with amazing professors who truly cared about what and how I wrote. I hope I can be the same for my students.

What rules from college/grad school do you find yourself remembering as you write or speak or read?

Posted on September 2, 2009 .