Monday, March 13, 2006

No Relief In Sight

The essays keep piling up. There's so many of them. They are not going anywhere. They haunt me. I take them out of my teacher-satchel at home, spread them out on the table, and then promptly go watch the West Wing or read in our innovative "Hallway Lounge" (no one has ever thought of this before, really, this placing of comfy chairs and end tables in a hallway). The essays are ignored. At 5:45 in the a.m. I gather them back, put them in the bag and go to work. In the classroom, I put on the lamps, take them out, and find excuses to do other things. I hang the reward rings. I straighten desks and pre-pass out work. During my prep period I ready the rest of the day's lessons and activities, knowing I could maximize efficiency to grade like four of them, but I do not. I read about my alma mater's prospects for making it out of the Minneapolis bracket, the upsetting of the 1-seed I believe is all-but-inevitable. When the day ends, after my pseudo-optional 8th period reading intervention ("We just read?" "Yes." "Really? That's it?" "Yes."), I pack them back up and take them home. They are sitting next to me now, as old-school Clapton has mercifully replaced crap-ass techno in this-here Valencia Street coffee-shop. Right next to me. Talking to me. Whispering.

Grade them. Pick them up and start. It's really not that bad.
It is bad. It huuuuurrrrts.

They are fine. It's pretty good writing for ELL kids who could not write sentences in August.
It's stilted and awkward and unimaginative.

Yeah? And who's fault is that?
Mine. My fault. I made them write like that.

Why didn't you do better?
Because it looks good in class, and it sounds good in class, but when I go home it's like swallowing barbed wire. I haaaaaate it.

Suck it up and grade them.
What if I blog instead?

You're just making yourself miserable.
The techno was making me miserable. Tennessee getting a 2-seed over the alma mater makes me miserable. J.J. Reddick makes me miserable. This is on a higher level.

If it's that bad, throw them out. The kids'll never know.
You're right. 97% of them have forgotten ever writing these damn things.

Good. Throw them out and move on.
They'll haunt me. The visions of all that effort in a recycle bin that ends up in the same place as the regular garbage cans will haunt me.

You have a rubric. It won't take that long.
I feel guilty if I only use the rubric. I feel like I owe them personalized comments beyond the rubric.

The rubric is an 11 X 5 grid with detailed remarks within each box, as well as comments on the categorical scores they earn and their connection to traditional grades as well as your 3-in-1, 2-in-1, 1-in-1 evaluation mechanism.
Then why does, "Well done. I like your second R/A" feel superior?

Cuz you're literally insane, still struggling with the guilt that you demand a greater level of effort and achievement from your students than you ever demanded of yourself, a person with far greater opportunities to ease the travel down the ol' road of life, and such guilt manifests itself in a bizarre desire to over-do things that simply do not require the aforementioned over-doing, even as a measure of such over-doing might be perfectly acceptable and wildly successful if put into the big ticket items you occasionally formulate, but never fully develop, mostly because of the previously mentioned tendency to not demand the highest levels of achievement from yourself.
Shut up. Asshole.

7 Comments:

Blogger posthipchick said...

Did you cry at West Wing every time John Spencer was on? Cause I did. It was a tearfest here.

Do you ever go to Atlas Cafe (20th & Alabama)? Great coffee shop- inside/ outside (covered), and wireless. I lived a few doors down from there for five years and it is probably still my favorite coffee shop in the city.

8:23 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

The Leo-death hasn't really hit home yet. Cuz he's still there! On the T.V.! Whenever I watch!

They're gonna hafta kill him on the show, right?

Atlas = good. I'm still hanging onto my pseudo-hipster mentality enough to hangout there. The wireless be not free, so Atlas becomes less for working and more for hanging out. Which is good, because so many of those places are silent as a tomb, a bunch of dorks typing away at laptops. Myself, you know, included.

6:59 AM  
Blogger ms. frizzle said...

Oh my god, I could have written this post. Grading is never easy, but damn near impossible when they didn't do a good job. *sigh* My solution has been to give myself a deadline, count how many papers I have, and then divide them up by the number of days. I don't have to grade 75 essays, just 15. If I do more than that, I'm ahead. I also use blogging as a bribe to myself. LOL - good luck.

4:51 PM  
Blogger yomister said...

Meh.

I had a dream that I corrected everything that I've been lugging about in my bag for the past two weeks.

And then I woke up.

I'm afraid that by the time I actually resolve to grade these horrid compositions, they'll be yellowed with age and disintegrating at the edges.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Polski3 said...

Great Post.....I can just see your little devil and angel....

devil: Toss them out! DO IT ! DO IT! Throw away those pieces of CRAP! YOU KNOW you don't wanna grade them!

Angel: Nooooo! DOOn't Listen to HIM! You arn't doing your job or doing right by your kids if you just toss those papers! You'll feel bad....

devil: Don't listen to that Goodie Two Wings! Go watch TV! Relax, Don't stress! Those papers won't make any difference to those kids! IF ya must, just give the kids some points for turning in something!

Angel: GRADE 'EM! You'll feel better about yourself, your students will know that you really LOVE them, and you'll feel a warmy sense of accomplishment when you finish the job! Everyone Wins !

EVERY teacher goes through this. Have you thought of having your students grade each others? For your ELL kids, maybe success would be trying to find three errors on someone else's paper? Good luck!

7:35 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Polski,

We do editing and revising in class, which provides the opportunity for peer/self review and reflection, but for the type of assessment these undertakings need, I really am the one.

Occasionally I have them grade things in class (like these multiple-choice end-of-unit spelling tests in CST format) and the whole time I'm sitting there thinking "Waster of instructional minutes. I am a waster of instructional minutes."

6:46 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Paragraphs? You get paragraphs?

I'm so jealous.

I have special ed. grades 8-12 and I'd darn near run over a nun on a holy day if it would get me paragraphs.

*sigh*

8:36 PM  

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