My students love to catch me in mistakes. Some of them live for it. A typo, an inconsistency, a missing article–it brings joy to the masses. And evidently it’s not just me; a colleague of mine had an online student who sent him a critique following each of his quizzes noting perceived grammatical, mechanical, and content errors. Most of them were not errors, but she felt he needed her feedback.
I tell my students all the time that I make mistakes. I forget to proof a discussion board posting or throw together a PowerPoint without reading over it. Guilty as charged! But I am also trying to give 228 students feedback, guidance, and instruction. Things slip by. When they catch me, I laugh it off and politely thank them for pointing it out, using the opportunity as a teaching tool to remind them that everyone should proof. (I also try to ignore the malicious glee some of them get from pointing these things out.)
It’s not just my students, however. People on FB like my errors as well. In conversation people have corrected my grammar. Usually when either of those happen, the person likes to point out that I’m an English teacher. This is not to say that I walk about using horrible grammar, but I do make mistakes or speak informally. Apparently there are folks out there just waiting to strike on such occurrences.
For the record, I don’t correct people grammatically unless the person is my student and that is what I’m being paid to do. If I am asked a grammar question, I will answer it, but I don’t think grammar should be used to bully people. So why, I wonder, are people so ready to pounce on my mistakes?
Is it the desire to prove I’m not good at what I do? I am a good teacher, most of the time, and I think my students can attest to that. Is it because they have been corrected and feel better correcting someone else? I’m not sure.
The point I try to politely make is that they are not always “on” when it comes to their own work. My working brain is different from my private life brain. I’m not walking around looking for prepositional phrases or constantly reviewing the syntax of what I’m saying. That would be exhausting.
So when I tell my friend, “you did good,” while it may not be correct grammatically, it gets the point across even though I didn’t say, “You did well in exceeding expectations and achieving success.”