I’m Jack McGee and my mom, Patty McGee, wrote a book. I asked if I could be first to tell you all about it, and proudly, I write this post to announce its release. Though I am only 16, in my totally biased opinion, the book that she has created, Feedback That Moves Writers Forward: How to Escape Correcting Mode to Transform Student Writing, is one of the most powerful and informative texts for teachers of writing. I know this in two different ways: as a student and as a son.
I consider myself a writer, and the advice and feedback my mom has given me throughout my life that solidified this belief in myself and my writing is the foundation of this book. As a student, I personally find Feedback that Moves Writers Forward to be revolutionary in how it transforms writing feedback from the grading-anxiety-inducing-necessary-evil into a feedback conversation where the writing and writer grows. She turns the dreaded red pen and “teacher as corrector” into approaches that coach and mentor young writers through strength-based feedback. I relish every new idea that my mom brings up and develops-- especially the chapter on offering choices when giving feedback to build ownership and agency, and I selfishly wish that I could have been so fortunate as to have this kind of feedback throughout my entire career as a student-writer. I had moments and pockets of this feedback from brilliant, kind, and progressive teachers. Those moments gave me the confidence I have as a writer now. I just wish grading wasn’t at the forefront of feedback and my mom has figured out a way to make it so grading and transformative feedback can still exist in the classroom.
Looking at this book’s message as a student gives me a whole new perspective on how much all teachers care about us younger writers and also the potential a new kind of feedback can have on this young generation of writers. It floored me that my grandpa and I have gotten the same kind of writing feedback even though we have a sixty year age difference.
I would like to call to your attention to the writing piece that was definitely not written by me the summer before sixth grade found in Chapter Three. Zack, a young author, who is definitely not me with my name changed, writes a review about what just happens to be my favorite childhood series. My mother introduces a new and very effective way to help students like Zack, who is not me, (really, I mean it), revise their writing without making it seem like their piece was a total failure. My mom suggests reading with an eye for what is working (like check out my voice in this piece! And I was only 11!) and then suggesting next steps (like adding some quotes directly from my favorite books). Isn’t Zack so lucky?
More importantly, however, as the author’s son, it is impossible to express in words the pride that I feel in my mother for this achievement. She has worked with tireless dedication for months, not only on this fantastic book, but as one of the best staff developers in the business, and as a loving and caring mother to two children. I’ve watched her as she’s crafted every concept, considered each edit, and even asked me and my sister for our feedback throughout the book. My mother has poured her life’s work into this book and it shows in the best way. When you read, you can tell that every detail was penned with the same boundless care and compassion that she puts into everything that she does, and we the readers are made all the better for it.
So don’t just buy this book: read it, and buy another to give to a friend in the teacher’s room and tell them what they will soon discover for themselves: “This book changed the way I taught for the better, and I know you will love it too.”
My mother, the author. What a wonderful thing to write.