Part of the beauty of grading is the unpredictability of what the teacher encounters. The “best” students will sometimes do the stupidest things: ES, for instance wrote, “you was not hear” for a Do Now on the day I feigned a migraine and stayed home in order to evade a burnout (shh! Don’t tell anyone!). Sometimes the “worst” students—the ones that constantly test your optimistic hope that they will ever be on grade level—show you extraordinary brilliance: TW, a 10th grader on a 5th grade reading level, wrote an outstanding paragraph on why graffiti artist James Top was a hero in his community. After each scribble of my green grading pen, and after each flip of the page, I always expect to see something new.
Thus, grading is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.
Going more into the details of my grading habits, I follow a six-step process. This is a series of steps that I’ve realized I now take without consciously knowing. Like a rhythmic robot, I go through this process with ruthless efficiency. I am now able, generally, to completely process a period’s worth of paperwork in well under 30 minutes. Here are the six steps:
- Sweep, at the end of each day, all the paperwork from each period’s inbox tray into respective grading folders.
- Sit with a nice strong cup of coffee (or two) on a Saturday, holding my stack of papers.
- Sort the assignments in chronological order.
- Scrutinize the work by seeing it, scrawling on it, and scoring it.
- Snapgrade everything (thank goodness for the Internet).
- Send everything back to each student’s hanging folder.
Here, these steps are (crudely) illustrated:
This sleek, simple system successfully saves serious seconds.
Where was I? In these moments of extreme efficiency, I am sometimes caught off guard by the unpredictability of what I find. HL’s Do Now, in response to the prompt, “Who is the most successful person you know? How did this person become successful?”, definitely made me smile just like the stamp I gave him for completing the Do Now within the allotted first 8 minutes of class:
Students, I’ve learned, will always surprise you, day in and day out!