Monday, February 11, 2013

Grading Pipedream

I don't know that I can fully express my gratitude for the four day Mardi Gras weekend I'm current enjoying.  Given how completely jammed full my schedule has been lately, it's been wonderful to get this small break.

It also allowed me to finally catch up on my grading, with which I had fallen woefully behind.  I'm not quite sure what my problem has been, other than fatigue--and then I would think about how much I had to grade, and not do it.  As with much procrastination, it had grown quite monumental in my mind--thank goodness I had this long weekend to catch up.

But you know, once I started, it wasn't terrible.  It took two sittings--one in which I tallied up participation and graded the short response papers, quizzes, and in-class writing from, oh, the last couple of weeks (it wasn't actually as bad as I thought).  The second sitting, I graded individual presentations--I had already made up a rubric, and had made notes during the presentations, so I pretty much just had to fill out the rubric.  Again, not so terrible.

Why am I so resistant to grading?  Sure, it's not as much fun as watching Downton Abbey, but then, what is?  Part of my hesitation, I think, was worrying what I'd actually find--for example, seeing just how many/how few students are keeping up with the reading.  In a class of 40, I have my usual suspects who speak in class, but it takes breaking them up into groups to get anyone else to contribute.  And truly, when I did go through the quizzes, there were a number of them that, rather than answer the questions, instead were confessions of not doing the reading, with a variety of reasons and excuses given.  Anymore, I don't have very much patience with most excuses--while I think that students write these long epistles in an attempt to garner sympathy or gain credibility, long stories involving family weddings/traffic/travel/whatever simply make me impatient.

(And what is it with the number of students involved in family events that conflict with class?  My parents would have never allowed me to skip class for anything!  I never know what to make of such excuses.)

I realized, though, that once I was done, I felt a bit chagrined by how painless grading had been.  I was reminded of how capable I am of trying to talk myself out of going to work out, and how glad I am when I'm unsuccessful at doing so.  In my grading fantasy, I find some sort of way to remind myself of how actually painless grading usually is, and how glad I am when I'm done with it, the same way that I've tried to condition myself to not let myself get out of going to work out.  The thing is, I actually enjoy the process of working out--when I'm at jazzercise, I actually have a good time, and feel fantastic afterward.  With grading, while it's never as painful as I dread, it isn't nearly as fun as jazzercise is. 

Tonight, my reward for finishing all of the grading was making cinnamon cookies.  That certainly amplified and reinforced positive feelings about grading.  But is that the only trick, to just come up with better rewards for grading?  Or other there others, that might make me dread it less?