Student writing provides opportunities for students to be vulnerable. When you are reading and grading student writing, it is possible you will encounter personal accounts or hints at violence, self-harm, abuse, neglect, bullying, or other similarly sensitive content.
If you encounter this or suspect a student may need help, it is your responsibility to immediately send a message to the teacher. This is absolutely critical in cases where a student may be in immediate danger. The teacher will be able to follow up with the student and take appropriate next steps. In your message, be sure to include the student’s name and a brief explanation so that the teacher understands the issue and level of urgency. If possible, include a link to the work so that the teacher can access it quickly.
Sometimes you might encounter cases that are a little harder to call. For example, a creative writing piece about a character who experiences abuse may or may not be partly autobiographical. Don't feel like it's on you to decide whether a situation is sufficiently severe. When in doubt, err on the side of alerting the teacher.
If you do not hear back from a teacher within a day, let our team know. We may have other ways of following up.
How should I grade the work?
If you are not comfortable grading the student's assignment because you're not sure how to best respond to the content, that's okay, but let the teacher know. If you do proceed with grading, comment on elements of writing while remaining supportive and sensitive to the student's vulnerability.
- Hi Ms. Hyden, I wanted to bring Anna Liemann's essay to your attention. She mentioned an experience with a sexual assault that still impacts her mental health today. Here's a direct link to her essay: [link]. You may be aware of the situation, but I just wanted to let you know. I will be able to grade her paper, but hope you can follow up with her.
I wanted to reach out to you in regards to one of your period 2 student's stories. Aaron Broman's story, while very well written, brought up some concerns regarding his safety and wellbeing. The story is about the main character feeling like no one cares about him, not even his family, and how he feels like no one will care for him. The story ends with the main character dying by suicide. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this so you could check in with Aaron if necessary. I also wanted to know how you would like me to proceed with grading this story. I want to be careful that my complimenting of his descriptive writing isn't perceived as endorsing the things that happen to the main character.