Monday, June 28, 2010

Grading Prison: Because You're Going to Be Here a While

So this morning, I have way too much to grade. This is my last day of daycare before grades are due, so in a fit of virtue, I'm going to dedicate the day to getting it done, rather than starting off with research or the annual report thingamajig. I have a lot to do. But can I just stop to say that it's not virtuous to wait until the last minute. Being at the tail end of things this quarter frankly just makes sense (my grandfather dying and accompanying fall-out really did take my head out of work for a long while, delaying things to this late date), but while I usually turn in my grades pretty quickly, happy to get done and be done, I almost always wait until the last minute to grade a batch of projects. I wait even with a batch of reading responses. Not during the first couple weeks, but eventually and pretty regularly.

When I was a grad student, I was notorious (at least in my own mind) for holding onto projects for ridiculously long times. I once had an all-time low and held on to them for such a long time I'm frankly just ashamed to tell you. Bad. Very very bad.

Now I always tell my students that it's going to be two weeks. When teaching two sections of the same prep especially. You don't want to hand back one class rather than the other, but it gets so tedious to read 50 of the project, no matter how interesting or unique. But really, there is no way it should take me 2 weeks to hand back a set of papers. I know -- to some of you this amount is already scandalous. I've seen a teacher I worked with hand back a full set of comments for drafts in one class period (it met every other day). The class was at least 25 students. It was inspiring and dispiriting. There really are people who are totally on the ball.

So when all this is over, I want to stop and think about why it takes me so long to make myself dig in to a stack of papers. I think part of it may be that there is no lull between projects -- we turn a project in and start a new one on the same day -- and those project introduction days are usually much more intense for me. Whatever. It makes no difference now, but I know I need to come back to this later. (Hence I put this in a blog, rather than a journal. I feel no responsibility toward consistency or logic in a journal. I don't even necessarily reread my journal for the most part. I feel responsible to the blog though because y'all are out there.) Also, once I dig in to them, they're usually more interesting and easier to grade than I had feared. Could fear have something to do with putting off one's grading? Hmmm.

Please discuss while I stare at a young squirrel who is half-splayed on my patio.

By the way, remind me to tell you about the patio and the wildlife. We've had a very eventful spring turn into summer, with squirrel babies and Canada goslings and the crazy goose who goes up and attacks tires and people. Oh yeah, and if any are interested, I have stories from the farm. I've been working at the farm for three or four weeks now. I really feel I can breathe better there. I swear it's just being so close to so many plants, who are putting out fresh new oxygen at me. I love it. But now it's not enough. I had to go to the farmer's market yesterday in the storm for a booster shot of produce and oxygen and gorgeous green onions that remind you that they are beautiful plants -- as gorgeous in shape as a tulip or iris or calla lily. I'm getting weird in my old age. And five plants on the patio, a place which has become an indispensable part of the house, especially to Tot. We are becoming much more granola earthy farmy people. AL can really feel it at work, how different we are from everyone sharing YouTube videos and apps or whatever. Anyway. Can you tell I'd really like to do something else? I don't even let myself think about it.

So this is what I have to do today:

  1. Grade revisions.
  2. Record revisions.
  3. Grade all-quarter work.
  4. Calculate grades.
  5. Grade final projects of Elective.
  6. Calculate grades.
  7. Contact any stragglers.
  8. Turn in at least Class 1 grades.
Yes, I wrote every little thing in there because I'm going to need the satisfaction of striking things off the list. I am profoundly tired. After a wonderful night of a full, uninterrupted night's sleep on Saturday night, last night Tot went to bed around 8pm, but woke up at 2:30, came to bed, and was very demanding this morning at 6:30. I have a giant coffee from the Corporation (which for money reasons and political reasons I really need to stop frequenting -- there I've made it real by putting it on here -- I really just need to get my espresso machine out of storage) and am fully ensconced in a spot in the house where I shouldn't need to get up for at least two, three. . .minutes.

When I wake up more and am out of coffee, I'll make myself a protein shake and take my vitamins. I would love to be done with Class 1 by about 1pm. That would really set me up for the day.


Hope your day is shaping up better than mine.

***12:15pm Update***

So I'm done with the first class completely. I pretty much rock. I can put all these papers somewhere (to go to the office, since I don't want to keep all this stuff here).

Now, I think I need to eat something. A protein shake. Lunch. Something. And then. Maybe a little bit of rest before I launch into Class 2. Dear lord. But at least if I keep this up I might be able to either work out or do something else besides grading before I have to pick everyone up.

***4:30pm Update***

Well, I'm done. But now I have to pick up the other Absurdists. No shower. No cleaning of the house. No nothing. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

I think grading is very grueling (even when the papers are themselves interesting). Period. You're so not alone in procrastinating when it comes to this particular part of the job.

Funny how we feel "virtuous" when we prioritize grading over research and somewhat guilty when we do the opposite.

Sisyphus said...

Dude, I think two weeks is standard! I have berated eager young TAs to not hand anything back faster than one week, because it trains students to expect it and we have so many overloaded grads or lecturers with high teaching loads. We gotta hold the line against speed-ups, no joke.

Ink said...

I am so feeling this post. Definitely grueling.

Congrats on you for finishing!!