Teachers Are Human Beings, Too (a grading time post)

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

I don’t know if students realize how stressful grading time is for faculty. Even for someone like me, who uses ungrading, I still have to read all the students’ submissions and reflect on whether the grades they self-assessed align with the quality of their work (90% of the time they do, but occasionally they really don’t and I have to have a conversation).

But here’s something I think some students forget. They forget that teachers are human beings too. You know how stressful it is for students at the end of semester with finals and submissions and all that? There is at least one time of semester that’s like that for faculty members, and that’s grading time. The psychological responsibility of giving someone a grade, trying to be fair all around to the entire human being you’re assessing and not just looking at them as a number, is hard on the psyche. This is not even counting the amount of time and concentration it takes to actually read their work and assess it.

But you know what else is happening to teachers, who are adults and have multiple responsibilities other than teaching students? They’re parents of kids who likely have exams as well, and may need help with studying or just psychological support – and maybe not even because of exams. They may have elderly parents they need to support. They likely have a conference that’s happening soon after grades are due and they need to travel during or right after grading time. Oh, and you know what, faculty get sick, sometimes, too. They fight with their loved ones, too, and it affects their ability to focus. They have all kinds of other things going on in their lives.

So I’m just going to say something. As a faculty member who tries to always be understanding that students have circumstances (disclosed or hidden) throughout the semester, and someone who negotiates deadilnes with students, accepts late work as better than none at all, gives students opportunities to improve their work to improve their grade, I ask students of just ONE way to show gratitude for that: at least for the final submission, to submit it on time. Just that one thing. Would make a world of difference to me. And most students totally get that. You’d think maybe I’ve trained them that being on time doesn’t matter, but I really don’t think that’s the case, because I have so many regular submissions that things would accumulate on someone who constantly submits late (which a small number of them do, but nto many). Most get it when I tell them that for final submissions, “this is a hard deadline, not a soft deadline. I’ve given you the instructions early, so you should be able to manage this. This time, no accommodations for lateness, because I can’t submit my grades late because I don’t get an accommodation” (I should say that line about me not having accommodations, but I didn’t – unless then the university DOES give me accommodations because I have students with accommodations… that might actually make sense?).

Next time, I’m going totally offline after the submission deadline. I know I won’t have the heart to do it, but that’s how I feel right now.

Image of teacher with many hands doing different things created via DALL-E3 via poe.com from prompt “Multi-tasking headscarved teacher”

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