A milestone: no millstone

Last year, a colleague found me laboring under a pile of grading that I didn’t know how to manage.  I was trying to correct every spelling and grammatical error in every paper, and I was lost. Adrift.  At sea.  It couldn’t be done, and I’d built up a massive backlog of grading that I didn’t know how to complete or work around.

She taught me a new way.  “You’re not their editor,” she said. “Editors and proofreaders get paid to do that kind of detail work.  Your job is to get them to explain their thinking in detail, to mandate that they tackle hard questions, and that they include facts to support their arguments, whatever those arguments might be.”

Her process that she asked me to try out was to go through each set of assignments with an eye to making 1-2 positive comments, ask a question or two about comment, and demand clarification where it seemed to be necessary.  I’ve been trying this technique on and off for about a year, and something about it clicked tonight.  Today.

My papers are graded.  I’m leaving school today with all my grading done, and no papers in my school bag for the first time in a year.  Maybe for the first time in my teaching career, too, I’m leaving school with a feeling that I’ve graded student papers properly and accurately and suitably, and that I can really dig in to plan the next few days of school without worrying about the student papers piling up.

It’s a good feeling.  Thanks, K!

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