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Editing Versus Coaching

Editing is a practice in which the goal is to improve a text. Coaching a student writer or speaker is, instead, a practice in which the goal is to help the student learn from your response and improve not just the text or talk in question but future texts and talks. The coaching metaphor has the trappings of sports and competition, but it also connotes relationship building, the interaction of experts and novices, and mentoring. The following table captures the key differences:



Focus on the text. Focus on the writer’s development and establish rapport.
Take ownership of the text or talk. Make sure the writer or speaker takes ownership.
 Proofread. Start with higher-order concerns and worry about correctness last.
Prescribe a solution. Ask questions.
Work in isolation. Work with the writer/speaker.
Look mainly for things to improve. Comment on things that are working well.
Make corrections for the writer/speaker. Keep hands off and let the writer/speaker make corrections – help them learn correctness.
Tell writers/speakers what to do. Ask them their plans for revision.

*Adapted from Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring, 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2003.