After teaching tenth grade honors students for two consecutive years, it occurred to me that my students were excellent at producing writing they thought I wanted and about responding to my suggestions for improving their writing; however, they lacked the intrinsic motivation to become stronger writers. On the surface, this seemed not to be a problem, as my students were generally compliant and motivated to be successful in the class. Over time, however, I grew bored with my students' manufactured responses to my writing prompts, and rather than blame them for my disappointment in their performance, I began to look inward to question my own behaviors and patterns as their teacher. In short, their "problem" was actually my "problem."
The grading system seemed to play a large role in this, but I opted to influence those factors over which I had control; besides, I could not deny the fact that my own approach to the teaching of writing was setting my students up to be overly reliant on me as their teacher. (See Literature Review and Underlying Assumptions for more details about the "problem.")