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Instructor conferences foster growth

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Anthony Scarmozzino edits his article with the help of instructor Karen Springen. Photo by Karina Aronson

While stressing about her feature story, Anna Zheng of Charlottesville, Virginia, relaxed when her instructor, John Kupetz, told her she could never disappoint him. With their mix of individual feedback and personal talk, instructor conferences provided a space where Zheng could grow as a journalist without fear of judgment, she said.

“My instructor always starts his feedback with something positive and closes it with something motivational, like, ‘You can do this,’” Zheng said. “With how positive he is, it encourages me to do better. I want to make him proud and do well.”

An essential part of the program is the weekly one-on-one instructor conferences where students work through their writing, ask questions and get personal feedback on each of their assignments.

Annika Singh of Fremont, California, said the program’s focus on feedback rather than grades not only helped her improve her journalistic skills but also fostered a new sense of collaboration with her peers.

“At school, we’re used to receiving a score for our work,” Singh said. “Having the opportunity to grow without worrying about being compared to others is refreshing.”

For Matthew Kim of Los Altos, California, edits from instructors showed him the staff’s dedication to working with cherubs.

“I like individualized feedback because it shows that your instructors actually take time to read your work,” Kim said. “Their criticism is detailed but never demeaning.”

Despite being among 84 cherubs, Singh said she could depend on the conferences with her instructor to gain personalized feedback outside of class sessions.

“I find it helpful to just sit and talk it out one-on-one,” Singh said. “You get to ask a lot more questions that are more personal to your work than in a lecture setting.”

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