I'm not going to refer to this as a thankless job any more, thanks to the first-year composition student who thanked me this morning for making him write so much and get lots of feedback on his writing. "It's made me feel more confident in my writing," he said.
I often hear the complaints, the whining from students who claim they've never had to write a paper so long!!! --Who think writing 1000 words each week is torture or wonder why they should have to read all those comments on their drafts.
But then I see the subtle improvements in style and organization, the mastery of skills that were previously pretty rusty, the improved fluidity in approaching writing prompts. I'm convinced that writing a lot and getting frequent feedback makes a significant improvement in their writing skills, but it's not every day that a student recognizes the improvement.
And when he does, all I can do is say thanks right back.