"Make a Good Decision"

My historians turned in their first assessment for me today. It was a graphic organizer outline (I am a huge proponent of graphic organizers--they're a terrific tool to organize thinking and writing) and an analytical writing piece. 

The first assessment is always a stressful time for my students--most want to make sure they follow all guidelines and complete it "perfectly". This is also usually the first time one of my favorite teacher phrases is spoken:

Discussion of the assignment specifics usually goes along these lines: 

Students: "Should we print or use cursive?"
Me: "Make a good decision."
Students: "Would you like us to use pen or pencil?"
Me: "Make a good decision."
Students: "May we submit it online?"
Me: "Make a good decision."

My poor students usually get increasingly confused by my statement. I want them to decide for themselves how to complete the details (I do have writing guidelines and factual information for them that's clear to understand). I will then kindly point out that I want them to make a decision that's best for them as a student. Making a "good" decision isn't MY decision, therefore it's "right"--it's what they feel will work best for them.

Students are so often micro-managed. I want to get them to think for themselves, in big and small ways. Leaving details for them to work out on their own doesn't mean I don't care about details or that neatness or specifics don't matter to me--it simply means that I trust them to make some choices for themselves. 


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