Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Joys of Grading

If you couldn't tell by the multiple posts yesterday, there has been a lot of procrastination going on around here. Painting the rest of the baseboards (and some of the trim by the door), changing which window is boarded up, recaulking the bathtub, pulling out enough crab grass to fill a 40 gallon can. Tons of fun. Most of it not even started. (Right now there are NO boarded up windows, but the one that was recently replaced is not yet 100% functional. Progress is being made on the crab grass. The rest of it? Let's not talk about it.)

The other thing I've been avoiding is the grading. It's pretty clear that some teachers have low standards for written work because of all the crap that gets turned in. If every teacher demanded excellent work on a consistent basis, I wouldn't receive quite so much very low quality work from college students. Until I get the students trained, the grading at the beginning of the semester is painful and tedious, as I need to justify every point off (and there are lots of them) and to explain what it is that I am expecting. And I collect homework (of various flavors and various degrees of counts/doesn't count towards the grade -- "effort" in my class is quantified by the number of reasonable attempts at homework handed in on time) just about every single day. Typically there are at most three non-test days when homework is not collected. If I don't collect the homework, then they don't do the homework. And if they don't do the homework, then they don't learn. And if they aren't going to learn, then it's not worth my time to do this job in any more than a half-assed manner.

Obviously, I was not looking forward to dealing with the giant pile of homework that I had brought home this weekend. Enrollment in our freshman-level classes is controlled by a multiple choice placement exam, and I am teaching a course whose acceptable placement score includes the range from 0 -- just guessing. I was shocked. They were really good! Really really good! Several As. Only 2 Fs, and the Fs were really, really, really high Fs. I think that this semester I have the best students that I've ever had.