Back on the Wheel

I hate grading and I think most of my colleagues do as well. Grading is the place where your idealism about teaching meets the reality of the job.   Moreover, to commit yourself to grading well (i.e., fair, regular, thorough, helpful and consistent grading) is to make a whole hell of a lot of work for yourself.  And much of it is, frankly, tedious. 

I have heard all about the shortcuts of grading rubrics and check sheets (I even use them), but nothing beats some personalized response.  The students wrote something for me to read and I should let them know I actually did read it. 

I am sitting here in my office.  It's the second week of classes and already I have 60 odd papers to grade.  The next three months will be a non-stop hamster wheel ride of due dates, papers, revisions, new due dates, papers, revisions...   It won't stop spinning until December.  

Just now, to put off grading for a few more minutes, I did a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation.  By the second week in December I will have graded over one thousand pieces of student writing (not counting the inevitable revisions).  They will range in length from two to 12 pages.  I actually cut a few assignments from some of my sections, and I'm still over a thousand papers this semester. 

When people dream about teaching they envision themselves influencing their students' lives, raising fascinating questions for class discussion, maybe even chatting with students about the meaning of existence.  They don't think of the crushing, soul-numbing repetition of noting in the margin for the 7,421st time that "then" indicates sequence and "than" is used to make comparisons.  But that too is part of the job.

Okay, enough procrastinating.  Back to work.

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