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Have you read much of Frank Smith's work? I've only read one book of his, but from what I can tell, he doesn't worry about stepping on toes. See below.
When I read this quote, I immediately find myself thinking about the conferring process. Would you agree that the hardest part of conferring is sifting through a piece to find a teachable focus that will create the most profound change in that writer's abilities? This can be a difficult task. I believe it's made even more difficult by our natural instinct. Time after time I've found that teachers naturally gravitate towards noticing certain things first when looking at a student's piece. Any guesses as to what those are? How about conventions? Spelling, capitals, punctuation, etc. Those seem to be the first and sometimes only things that are discussed between a teacher and writer. As Frank Smith has pointed out, conventions should not be the standard by which a piece is considered acceptable or unacceptable. I don't mean to insinuate that they are unimportant, but I'd like to challenge us all to look past the surface errors and focus first on what will really push that writer to the next level. It might take a little more sifting and digging on our part to find out what that thing is, but it will be worth the extra effort. I'll bring this to a close by letting Regie speak her mind, which she always does so well.
"It is easy to get distracted and try to focus on everything. Focus first on quality content, and work on editing later." Regie Routman, Writing Essentials 226