I've been conferencing with a number of my writing students this past week. On Tuesday afternoon, I talked with a student about a draft of a paper due Wednesday. The paper was all over the place, trying to do two or three arguments, and not really doing any.
But we talked, and the student really wanted to make one argument, so we drew out a rough outline and I suggested the student put away the draft and begin completely again. And she was politely resistant, but I assured her that would be best. And we talked about an extension until Friday to turn in the essay, and that was that.
Today she came to my office hours to talk about her new draft, and it was such a smart, well-written draft. I had one substantial suggestion about how she talked about an example doing two things, though it only did one thing. And right away, she saw that using a second example to show the second thing separately would work, and she had a good example. So we made a note (because making a note means it's easier to remember when you get down to the writing part).
It was great. She'd totally left the other draft behind, and talked about how hard it was to do that, but how it had been the right thing. And while she was worried that this draft wouldn't actually be good, she was also hopeful that it was, because she felt good about it (but was, in that very understandable way, not confident).
So now she's learned something important about drafting and redrafting. And with good reason, she's enthusiastic about the result she just got.
She made my day. It was a good day, but now it's way better than good.
It's great when students take some suggestion, do the hard work, and really put together a fine draft.