I took some time to think about this and, with Lucy's words ringing in my ears, created a new strategy for my writers. I implemented this trick and found great success! My writer's LOVE writing. And I really do believe this one simple trick is why.
After my students submit a published piece of writing, I hand write them a letter of praise. This quick letter tells them everything I love about their writing. I attach it to their writing and send it home with them. This copy is for their family too. (Note: this is also a great way to share more positive feedback with families!)
You may be asking, but what if their writing sucks? What if they didn't do a single thing they were supposed to do? I know - but teaching really is all about building trust and respect. Each piece of writing is a valuable tool for you as a teacher! Each time I sit down to read a piece of writing, I have my Writing Conference Binder next to me. In my binder, I track what I see. I track what this writer is doing well (and use that in my letter!) and then take notes on what we need to work on. During our one-on-one conferences, I use this information to guide them through whatever they're working on and make it better. Because they know I love their writing and appreciate them as writers, they're ready to hear my criticism. When we meet, they're also sharing with me a work in progress, something that they know isn't "perfect" yet so I can help them make it "perfect" by focusing on skills they need, helping them grown as writers!
Obvi, some writers will have more needs than others. But we're only human and can only do so much. Prioritize and do what you can. Your patience and gentle support will go a long way!
I use these pages to write my letters and attach them to student writing. Grab them FOR FREE here! And grab my note taking pages for free HERE!