A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 11 2010

The Beauty of Grading

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:

  1. Sweep, at the end of each day, all the paperwork from each period’s inbox tray into respective grading folders.
  2. Sit with a nice strong cup of coffee (or two) on a Saturday, holding my stack of papers.
  3. Sort the assignments in chronological order.
  4. Scrutinize the work by seeing it, scrawling on it, and scoring it.
  5. Snapgrade everything (thank goodness for the Internet).
  6. 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!

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One Response

  1. That student is right James Top is a Hero in his community..

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Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

D.C. Region
High School

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