I absolutely love teaching. It brings me so much joy! But every job contains elements of drudgery or downsides we must somehow manage. For me, it’s always been grading. I love helping students improve their writing—and I generally enjoying giving helpful feedback—but with so many students and so many essays to grade, the work feels tiring, often boring, and difficult.
I’ve tried so many things to make a day of grading go well. After every five essays graded, it’s time for a walk around the block, a reward in the form of chocolate or a fun beverage, or the chance to do something fun (like watch funny videos) for 10 minutes. I’ve also tried imagining that I’m teaching others how to grade while I’m grading, like I’m on some live television show. It’s weird. I role play being the grader while I’m the grader. I’ve even tried setting timers to beat my own best record in grading an essay. I really can’t do better than 10 minutes. Mostly, I take 20 minutes per essay. If I’m reading 50 essays, it’s brutal. (You do the math; I’m grading for 16 hours just for one assignment). On days like these, I sometimes remember how little Penn State pays me. Don’t ask. You’ll be embarrassed for me. But I love teaching so much, I often say I’d do it for free. That’s a good thing because I practically am.
Treats. Theatrics. Timers.
Ugh! Next I’ll perform gymnastics in the living room or bake a soufflé. I’ll tell myself that after these next 5 essays, I can go on vacation. Anything, anything to get through this grading day!
OK: My break just ended. 5 more essays.