One thing that I always try to do while teaching a class is to ask permission before I handle a student’s work. This is a small thing, but my goal in class is to empower students to find and correct their own errors. If I take their work every time a problem occurs and whisk it away for a quick fix, my students never really learn to do the things they need to do when they are on their own.
When a student asks for help, I look at the work in their hands and see if I can identify the problem and give verbal directions. If not, I ask if I can hold their work so I can examine it more closely. Once I’ve identified the problem, I have some choices. I can ask the student if I can fix it for them and explain what I’m doing, or I can hand it back and direct the student verbally or using my sample to demonstrate. I do a mix of these things in class, depending on the skill level of the individual student and what the student indicates to me that she or he needs to move forward. I admit I may not be perfect at asking permission every time, but learners benefit from being treated as capable and in control, and asking permission is one way to achieve this goal.