Friday, April 28, 2006

Anxiously, slowly grading

I’m avoiding end of the semester grading for a moment, just a moment.

Evaluating final projects, papers, and portfolios creates a certain amount of anxiety in me. The anxiety arises from a series of contradictions and tensions:

1. It’s unnecessary: I’m confident I could assign final grades based on what I’ve already seen student drafts and presentation with 98% accuracy.

2. It’s a waste of time: few students care about the details of my evaluation beyond the grade.

3. I’m constantly seduced by the thought that when I’m done grading, I’m completely free for a few days: but no matter how hard I try (timing my readings, setting goals, etc.) I can’t ever seem to just check the damn things off.

4. Often I sense I’m dedicating more time and mental effort to student work than they have given it themselves but, on occasion, some student work demands I do much more than merely record its (its!) score on my little sheet; it demands I email them, point out their amazing improvement, encourage them to submit their work to our student journal, and ensure they will continue to write like this in other courses.

5. And finally: what the hell does this mean anyways? Who am I kidding? This is an authentic evaluation of student effort, intelligence, and skills? It’s all a farce and we all know it, yet if I don’t keep evaluating, everyone (students, administrators, colleagues, family) will question my sanity and competence.

Back to it. I judge each paper, each person, each 3 month’s worth of effort, boiling it down to 80 minute classes and my silly little construction of a "final" project.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

unbearable lightness of blogging

Flooded basement (the basement we just finished remodeling) sort of sucked the light hearted blogging spirit out of me. I'm recovering but probably only turned in the direction of, rather than actually moving towards, lightness.

I thought I'd catch up on my blog reading and in the process get inspired. But I read so much I'm now tired, a bit inspired but more tired than anything else.

One happy note: I successfully planned a family trip to San Diego during the break before summer school. I even used to bid on a hotel stay: $70 a night for 5 nights at a Marriot 2 miles from ocean. And no we are not, if you were wondering, going to Disneyland. I'm slugging the next person who asks and then looks disappointed when I say no.