Saturday, February 28, 2009

Red Ink--is it that bad?

I recently had some professional development that focused on ways to cultivate positive relationships with students, something that all teachers (ideally) value; it's always a fine line to both support students's ideas while at the same time maintain respect for the truth during class discussions-- as a teacher in the classroom leading a discussion, you'll inevitably get some responses that are way off and, no matter how you cut it, are just 'wrong.' ...navigating these kinds of classroom discussions is definitely a skill that improves with time and experience.

There was one point during the PD that I just can't buy: that students' self esteem is effected by using red pens to correct their errors... that the very choice of ink color (red) is a factor that can demoralize students. The argument put forth, as best as I could tell, was that since red has been used so often to correct students that this ink color is a psychological trigger for students, one both demoralizing and damaging.
I must say that I wholeheartedly disagree with this. I use red pen simply to distinguish the color of my remarks from the color of the student's ink. Oftentimes, the comments that I write in red are quite positive or neutral. In the end, I believe that a teacher's rapport with students is what will demoralize or uplift the students' response to your feedback, regardless of whether you use red ink, blue ink or pink ink.

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