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The Teacher Tip

The Newcomer's Perspective

January 2, 2018

Adapted from Reimagining Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson.

In several important ways, English teachers are the perfect people to offer descriptions of our experience of reading students’ texts. We’re good at thinking carefully about the effects of words, and we’re generally good at description. 

If we think of assessment and evaluation as comparing a student’s work to a standard, rule, format, or other abstraction, then, we’re less likely to embody the perspective of a newcomer as we read. And we’re less likely to communicate to young writers how the exchange between writer, reader, and text actually works. Approaching a text with “the newcomer’s perspective” allows experts and nonexperts alike to encounter a subject without preconceptions or the labels and categories of the expert. 

To learn more about Reimagining Writing Assessment and to download a sample chapter, visit

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