Turning Risks Into Rewards

By attending college, you are faced with an abundance of risks and rewards that can be presented on a daily basis. This way of thinking has never been presented to me before. Thinking about my own thinking is challenging and hopefully rewarding. Dr. Beth McCoy’s writing seminar course for the risks and rewards of academic partnership helps push students on their journey of self growth. In this course, using an epigraph as a throughline, we can be able to stay focused throughout the semester and on track with work. This course demonstrates that I will be more well versed in getting to know my thoughts and writing more than just scratching the surface of it. 

In “Bloodchild”, a short story written by Octavia Butler, Gan encounters risks and rewards by adjusting to difficulties and unknowns in his life. T’Gatoi is a more powerful species than Gan and his family. Gan was aware of being given an option of lesser power. This short story states, “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” This dialogue was after Gan requested an equal partnership from his friend T’Gatoi, rather than of a relationship where T’Gatoi has power over him. Gan was only born because all Terrans must provide someone to carry the Tlic’s children because they offered Terrans land and protection many years ago. When Gan found this out, it did not annoy him or bother him in the beginning. After seeing a birth gone wrong and hearing many stories about him, it began to change his opinion. This emphasizes to me that there is a risk in any partnered work. 

Gan, from “Bloodchild” demonstrates and teaches college students about the risks and rewards of academic partnership. Also, he teaches how students have the ability to understand how trust and power relate to consent. In addition, some actions that appear negative may actually be helpful. In high school, an academic partnership can be observed between the students and the school. On one hand, students engage in an academic partnership with teachers in high school. However,  this relationship in college is more meaningful due to the greater risks and rewards. Due to the greater consequences of risks and rewards in college, the relationship needs more work and thought. Throughout high school, most students complete work in order to get a grade. This changes in college because we are working to adulthood and becoming a full time member of the working class. Risks and rewards in college create a stronger academic partnership. A few weeks ago, I quickly learned that I hardly knew anything about college writing. I assumed my AP English class in high school would have prepared me for college writing. But I was wrong. This course demands we dig deeper into what we’re being asked to write about. In highschool they give you a prompt and you complete the assignment. In this course, being able to loosely explain what your brain is thinkING and not writing what the teacher wants to hear is a big reward. 

In this course there are many risks and rewards. There are many things in place to help you in this course. For instance, the class rubric serves as guidelines to follow when grading your assignments. The rubric states, “Demonstrates a central through line. Provides and unpacks evidence from course texts to illustrate/support claims. Furthers thoughtful conversation. Makes clear how it connects to larger course questions and concepts.” Also, “Have I taken as much care as possible with proofreading and mechanics?” and, “How consistently have I looped back to early material, texts, and activities and applied them to current material, texts, and activities?” The rubric is a tool that can prove to provide  many rewards, because you know what Dr. McCoy is looking for in your work. According to the syllabus, an area of growth in this course is the ability to assess or grade your own work. Following the structure of three; “care for course accountability, care for growth, and care for peers growth” will allow me to develop the ability to grade my own work. Being able to grade your own work can be a big reward or a big risk. As a reward,  it can make students move away from doing homework just for points to making them more aware of why and how doing the work helps them learn more. When you do something just for a grade you do it extrinsically, by only doing it for the end result. But when you know you have to self- grade yourself you are more intrinsically motivated, by performing an activity for your own benefit. If students grade their own work, they see exactly where they are making mistakes and how to fix it. Especially with Dr. McCoy’s very detailed notes, we see where we need to improve. In fact, in the syllabus, it states, “meaningfully, thoughtfully, and honestly assess their own coursework based on feedback they receive from instructors and from peers.” On the other hand, there are risks, when you grade your own work you are more critical of yourself. Moreover, when grading yourself you have to be aware how you grade yourself cause it could appear you’re cheating. These findings have important consequences for the broader domain of learning more about yourself and grading based on your effort and your willingness to do the work. Risks of negative feedback from Dr. McCoy can give you more motivation to become a stronger writer. 

By learning about risks and rewards, I understand that everything you do has a consequence attributed to it. Attending college in person and living on campus is a big risk that many of us took during a global pandemic. While it is true that in person classes are a big risk in this current climate, it is one that is important to me. Even knowing that learning online is very difficult for me, being on campus is important. Throughout the duration of this class, my goal is to expand my knowledge of a growth mindset and be very open to help me grow into the teacher I wish to be one day. 

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