The best grading is specific, constructive, and back in students’ hands in a timely fashion. Most teachers agree with this. Research shows this. And, let’s be honest, you knew it anyway.
So why haven’t you finished grading that pile on your desk?
And why is grading the part of the job most likely to cover your kitchen table, ruin your weekends, and never, ever be finished?
Part of the answer comes down to simple math.
Ten minutes worth of detailed comments per paper on 150 high school essays equals 25 hours of grading. The same goes for grading thirty elementary students’ work in five different subjects. Even one minute per assignment adds up to two and a half hours—and students do more than one assignment each week.
The two topics missing from most discussions about grading are time and tradeoffs.
Teachers know constructive, specific, timely feedback is important.
At the same time, you know much of the grading you do probably isn’t perfect. And if it’s perfect, it probably isn’t done.
Many sessions of See Me After Class Office Hours touch on how hard it is to keep up with grading. Sometimes this is the topic of the entire session—or even more than one session. Other times it’s more of an undertone of a discussion about why a teacher’s whole treadmill constantly feels notched up too high.
The good news is that there are ways to make grading more keep-up-with-able for teachers while still doing justice to student work. An honest, nuanced, practical discussion is the best place to start.