The Nightmare is Over, Well, Mostly

I’ve finished my grading. It took hours and hours, mostly because I was so busy this semester that all the grades were on scattered pages, listed in different things, and so on.

Happily, I don’t need to deal with little attendance papers because attendance isn’t (really) a part of the grades — though I use it as a tie-breaker, on the basis of the notion that people who care more about their grades come to class more. And, as I’ll mention below, I also use it to track and adjust peer-evaluated class participation grades, since one cannot participate if one doesn’t even show up.
(Yes, you can get a little paper that excuses you for this or that, but if you really, truly care, most of the engagements you get little papers for would matter less. On top of that, if you care so much about those engagements, 1% off your final grade is a small sacrifice.)

For the first time ever, I used students’ self-evaluations as a major part of the process in assigning final grades. In fact, it’s a very good thing that we aren’t entering number-grades, because I found that in self-evaluation, the best students lowballed themselves surprisingly viciously.

This matters less in a small class where I can adjust things on the fly, but in my big class, I had to use a grading curve to sort things out. Well, a grading ratio, that is. Not really a curve. Anyway, the top grade in the class, numerically, was just barely over 90%, yet that student — and the five or six below her — were absolutely A+ students!

I was very happy to catch out some students who seemed to be taking advantage of the fact I didn’t take attendance on “led discussion” days. (Time constrains made it impossible, but they didn’t realize that the peer-evaluation forms served as an after-the-fact attendance tracking system. This was great because there were a few of them who, no matter how well they did in small-group discussions, didn’t deserve to get a 90% on small-group participation when they skipped half the small-group meetings!

Anyway, tomorrow will be a busy day, though not because of grading. If I had taught more than one class with over 20 students, it would have been, but since I only had to fiddle with one grade sheet to achieve the A/B/C-F split required of the university (I won’t call it a grading curve, it’s more of a grading ratio), I’m now done with grading.

However, I need to spend tomorrow digging up all my old homework assignments, handouts from ten or more different courses (scattered across various hard drives) and write up a document explaining what kind of efforts I’m making, in order to “justify” my contract renewal for next year. My supervisor was notified of the request on Friday, and told to have me turn it in on Monday.빨리빨리, huh?

I’m trying to be positive about it, and look at it as a kind of impetus to (quickly!) reorganize my school-related materials onto a single hard drive, and to print everything up for a single teaching dossier. Might as well have one on hand, since I’ll need one eventually. Who knows, I might spend Monday afternoon finally reorganizing the remainder of the content on my various hard drives, because several of them seriously need reformatting.

The tough thing is, I don’t really type up lessons plans too much, since I revise what I’m doing — sometimes on the fly, sometimes from group to group, sometimes from year to year. When we’re dealing with subjects I know enough about to lead discussions or lecture freely, I have only the scantest of notes; and in discussion classes, sometimes I run exercises without any written plan because the exercise is so familiar than I can do it without, and the students don’t need anything on paper.

So it’s going to be a somewhat scattered collection of papers. I’m not too worried, since the head of my department is backing me and I’ll have a reference letter from the dean of another department for whom I do editing of somewhat important documents. But it will still be a scramble to organize myself a passable pile of papers.

And I do hope they observe my request to have my poetry chapbook returned: I didn’t get too many copies printed up, and I don’t want to lose one to some bureaucrat who’ll just trash it a week later anyway!

But I’m still please at having finished my grading, a whole day before I’d planned to do so!

You know what I’m looking forward to? Having time to read for pleasure… First up, I think I’ll finish Adam Roberts’ Snow.

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