We’re only a month into school, and I’m already behind on grading.
So far my students have written an in-class personal essay, an analytic paragraph, and completed a creative response project, all connected to their summer reading. Those assignments have all been graded, and I’ve written interim comments for all my students. However, for our Bible as Literature unit, I assign reading guides to be completed for each night’s homework reading, and I’m behind on grading the second batch (the first is deliberately ungraded).
I’m tempted to say that means I’ll be doing my first stint this year in grading jail, but a recent ProfHacker post questioning the use of jail as a metaphor for the state of grading has gotten me thinking. The poster talks about different sources of grading stress, including the ever-present time factor, but also the dilemma of knowing when you’re commenting too much on a student’s work. Finally, there’s the subjective/objective factor, which comes heavily into play for us humanities folk, but I suspect cannot entirely be escaped altogether. We don’t want our students to get too obsessed with their grades, and we don’t want them to see that grade as the measure of their worth as a student, but at the same time, can we reasonably expect them not to? How to grade an essay or piece of writing in a standardized/objective way that makes students feel they’re being treated fairly, while still offering personalized feedback and getting it done in a reasonable time frame?
Personally, I used to pride myself when I was adjuncting on getting essays back within a week (most of the courses I taught only met once a week). I was grateful for the ProfHacker commentor who compared his relatively light academic grading load to the hefty grading he did as a 6-12 Math teacher, because that time frame certainly isn’t always possible for me now that I have a larger load and a family of my own (and yes, my load is only a fraction of what I know many of my public school compatriots face!). The effects and time commitment of grading is one of the many factors proving that class size is crucial to teacher success.
So why do I feel like I’m facing iron bars when I think about the stacks of ungraded work? Is this how my students feel when they chain themselves to their desks to study for finals? How I can address this, for all of us? I’m not sure yet, but a change in terminology is probably the first step.
- True worth is more than grades (todayonline.com)
- New Grading System Causing Some Concerns For Parents In Solon (kcrg.com)
- Bruno: Is Standards-Based Grading A Good Idea? (scholasticadministrator.typepad.com)
- Bruno: Class Size Struggles Against “Low Cost” Alternatives (scholasticadministrator.typepad.com)
- A Note on Quizzes and Grades (missdenny7.wordpress.com)