As a teacher, I think that one of my essential roles is to set parameters within which, and to establish questions in response to which, quality thinking, writing, and discussion occur. In my writing seminars, this has meant crafting assignment prompts that allow students to explore themes, passages, and historical questions that interest them. I expect a considerable level of student involvement in-class and outside class. In my experience, the best essays and the best discussions result from students who take ownership over, and respond creatively to, the material I present.
My primary methods for evaluating and assessing students are qualitative. After reading a paper and making annotations in the margins, I respond to each student’s essay with a typed comment. I have found that the process of constructing narrative responses to each paper allows me more freedom to open up dialogue with students’ ideas and to engage with their writing in nuanced and individualized ways.