The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Not good, but great

Posted by Seeking Solace |

When I was in my first year of law school, I had this one professor who had the reputation of being a total hard-ass. If someone looked up the Socratic Method in the dictionary, she would be a reference. She would use her red pen of death on our papers that there was more red ink than black. She did not allow students to revise papers. She felt that if what you submitted was your best effort, then you need to accept the grade that goes with that effort. For many of my classmates, what they thorught was their absolute best effort was met with a less than favorable grade.

When it came to my papers, she always left a note saying, I am not grading this until you make the following revisions... With a heavy sigh, I made the revisions she suggested, only to be told to revise the paper again and again. I think I revised one paper four times before it met with her approval. The end result was not only an "A" on every paper I submitted, but an "A" for the course.

I didn't tell my fellow classmates about my revision opportunities. Law school is very competitive and I knew that I would open the flood gates by disclosing my "advantage". But, I had to know why my professor allowed me revise my papers when so many of my classmates were not afforded such a luxury.

She told me that she saw something special about me. She knew that I had what it took to be successful in law school and beyond. She said that she wanted to push me to see if I could exceed her expectations, which I did quite well.  She wanted my work to not just be good, but great.

Twenty-one years later, I find myself doing the same with the students in my undergraduate law course. I have two students who possess the ability to go beyond my expectations. Both of their semester project papers are good, but they could be so much better with some revision. So, like my law professor, I gave them constructive feedback on where they need to make some changes, sent the paper back to them with a new deadline for submission.

And, just like my professor, I told them that I want their work to not just be good, but great.


Rebecca said...

That's fabulous. I enjoyed reading that so much.