I'm giving away a hint to the end of the year with this blog post, but I feel like it's fitting! At the end of every year I teach, I give my students a copy of one of my favorite poems called "Desiderata." Yes, you'll get one, too! I love it because it holds so much applicable truth, and it's one that I hope you reflect on as you move to the next phase of your life.
My favorite part of this poem is the line that says, "If you compare yourself to others you will become vain and bitter; there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself."
This quote is interesting to think about after yesterday's peer review session. Before you left my room, I reminded you to be HUMBLE and GRACIOUS - motivated to improve no matter what. It's so important to remember that line of the Desiderata.
I actually don't think comparison is a bad thing. You just have to be careful about your THINKING as you do so. I've improved so many areas of my life after studying other successful people and altering my habits to be more like the ones I see. To become a better runner, I modeled my training after one of my fellow colleagues who knew so much about running. To become a better mom, I listen to and read stories of other parents who talk about their experiences as parents. To be a better wife, I look at other women I admire and try to model characteristics I see in them. I do all of these things while trying my best to stay true to who I am. Like the Desiderata says, I need to recognize I can always learn from others and help people who want to improve.
Obviously, comparison can strengthen your writing. Reading the writing of those who excel in adding sensory detail to their writing can help you do the same. Comparing the way you punctuate a sentence that has appositive phrases or dialogue with professional writers can help you learn how to use those marks in your own pieces. However, the key is to GROW from the experience and not let that comparison make you "vain or bitter." In these writing sessions - and, more importantly, in life - if you can learn to not take things personally, but take constructive criticism and DO SOMETHING with it to make yourself better, you will be an absolute success.
One of the things I loved about yesterday was listening to you ask specific questions of the authors and reviewers in your group. You weren't afraid to ask someone what they meant by a particular line in their piece; you weren't hesitant to ask someone in your group to look our for a particular element of your narrative writing. The most mature writers are those that welcome feedback and DO SOMETHING with it. I've seen you grow leaps and bounds this year and I've been especially impressed with how you gave and welcomed the feedback.
I was proud of your work yesterday; I hope you were, too!
So, tell me what you thought! What was your experience like during our peer review sessions? What feedback helped you the most? How did you feel during the review session? What things helped or hindered you? How did you feel as you GAVE feedback? How did you feel as you RECEIVED feedback? What did you think about using Twitter? If we conducted another peer review session, what could we do to make it more effective? How do you do, personally, with being humble and gracious yet motivated to improve?