I finished writing mid-term comments last night at about 2:11 am. Despite finishing so late, they weren’t quite as difficult as I expected them to be. Start to finish, they occupied about eight hours of time start to finish, with a couple of twenty minute breaks in the middle. Call it seven hours.
What made the difference? Why were these comments so much less odious than any other set of end-of-term comments that I’ve written?
Well, for one thing, it was easy to shut myself in at home, and just sit down and write. I had folders of student homework already graded close at hand, so there was a pile of student handwriting, writing skills, and typical work close at hand. I’ve kept a better grade book than I ever have before, so there was a mountain of data and trends to work with.
I found myself wishing — desperately — that I’d had some Statistics in my math classes, and had some idea of how to squeeze more information out of my data points. But for all of that, I did great. And now I have a much better sense of how to do this work for this school, more effectively.
Sounds like you gave your students fantastic data-driven feedback. I’m amazed at the endurance it takes to complete comments and grades. Do you find that doing it all at once is better than spacing it out?
I much prefer doing it all at once, but sometimes it’s better to space them out. It’s easier to get into the “flow” of writing them all at once, but it takes about six to eight hours to do them all, and it’s hard to do that many in one big stretch.