Thoughts on Teaching – 2/26/2012 – A grading weekend

OK.  I’m cheating on the date a bit here, since it just turned past midnight here, but I will probably get a Monday blog out, so I went ahead and put this with a Sunday date.

Just a note here as to why I haven’t posted all weekend.  It’s a grading weekend!  I took Friday off from grading after working through assignments last week, but Saturday and Sunday were full-on grading extravaganzas.  For any of you who teach out there, you know how it is.  I spent a good 8-10 hours each day working on my grading.  My mom, who also teaches at a community college, sympathized this morning, although we have opposite schedules on our big grading times.  Her strategy is to get up earlier and earlier in the morning to grade, whereas I just stay up later and later grading.  This weekend, I stopped grading after 10pm each day, and this week is going to be similarly busy, as I have a lot of grading left to do.  That’s the problem with setting up the class to have three major turn-in points for the students, as it means that when each of those points hit, I have around 2 major assignments from each of my 180 students to grade.  I typically try to get things back to my students within a week from when they gave them to me, but that’s not going to happen this time.  I am actually on the week after schedule so far, but I can already tell that I’m going to fall behind that schedule very soon, as there simply are not enough hours in the day to get things back that quickly.  But I will keep working and keep the students notified of my progress, and that should be ok.  I’ve noticed that, as long as you are honest about when the assignments will be graded, the students don’t mind not getting their work back for a while.  It’s only when they have no idea what’s going on and when they are going to get anything back that they start to freak out.

In all of it, I must say that the grading went well.  I did my usual of holing myself up in the back bedroom for both days, putting on either music or movies and just pounding out the grading.  I graded roughly 50 essays each on Saturday and Sunday, graded using a grading rubric in turnitin.com.  Also, today, when I finished up the second set of 50 essays, I then had to grade the discussion forum participation for each student and figure up final grades.  For this assignment, I had the 2 essays and a discussion forum that figured into the grade for the online class.  The first essay (the longer one) counted 40% of the grade, while the second essay and discussion participation were 30% each.  So, at the end of my grading time this evening, around 10:45, I posted all of the grades up for those online sections.

And, of course, just as a note for all of those who think that teaching college is some cushy job, no, I don’t get paid anything more for working all weekend.  Yes, I could just give all of my students multiple-choice tests and not have to worry about weeks like this (as this grading session will at least last through next weekend, if not longer), but I strongly believe that my students should write and need to write a lot.  Yes, I teach 6 sections.  Yes, I have 180 students signed up for my classes.  But each of them will be assigned to write at least 20 pages for me over the course of the semester, and many will do a lot more than that, as my published word counts are only minimums.  Most students will find that completing the assignments in the minimum word count is very difficult, and for many, I will read up to twice that much from them in the semester.  Although I might curse myself while I’m in the middle of grading these things, I hope that by getting them writing and thinking and by providing them with feedback to help them improve, I am contributing to their further education and growth.  Maybe that’s idealistic of me, but there’s still a little idealism left, even after 10 years of teaching.

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About Scott Williams

I am an educator, community-college instructor, thinker, husband, parent of three, student of life, owner of a parrot, player of video games, voracious reader, restless wanderer, and all around guy.

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