R, while by no means a “bad” writer for someone her age, is not phenomenal either. Much of what she lacks she makes up for with effort. Though she fits the profile to some degree, preferring to do some of the pre-writing steps of which teachers are so fond “in [her] head.” Technology has made the drafting an revision processes happen concurrently for R, and she has heretofore not seen the value in going back again for more revision. She is the kind of student, though, who will and does ask for help. Further, she typically uses requisite revision time more fruitfully than M does.
A few of R’s statements paint her in favorable perspective with M. M is easily within the top 5% of writers that I have worked with this year, yet some of her characteristics are potentially problematic from a pedagogical standpoint. M willingly admits that she typically does not apply more than 80 percent of effort on assignments. She does not engage fully with the writing process, even when it is required of her; M seems to hardly have faith in that process as a means to improve an individual assignment or her writing skills in general. With fewer intellectual gifts, she could be a nightmare to teach.
I wrote earlier that I heard of some History teachers who believed that teaching writing was not their responsibility, but the responsibility of English teachers. R gives great (and relieving!) evidence to the contrary: history teachers whose goals and expectations from students include writing. Indeed, in R’s case, the writing she did in AP World History challenged her more than the writing she did in her Honors English class, which likely has to do with the varied kind of writing an AP class can require a student (especially a freshman like R) to write at a high level: DBQ’s, position papers, research papers, etc.
When I introduced R’s interview in a previous post, I mentioned how I thought she was in interesting case study in perseverance. Allow me to explain in a bit more detail here. At one point in her interview, R spoke a bit about her history with reading and writing. She remarked that she “hated” reading growing up. She was put in “remedial” writing classes when she was younger because, as she says, she “couldn’t spell”. That kind of statement from your teachers has to be discouraging. Indeed, her time in those classes made her less willing to read, even though she was at least proficient at it. I would wager that many of the kids who are put in any “remedial” class for subject would have a much lower academic trajectory, lower patience with schools and educators, and a lower level of engagement with academic tasks. R and her parents (who she also identifies as unable to spell) did not buy into the dogma, moving her into “Honors” classes in short order. Now, she “loves” to read, and is writing with success. Some combination of R and her parents kept her invested and motivated, and the results, while potentially anomalous, are evidence of her persevering character as a student.