I have just spent the past few days in that end of the semester hell known as grading.
This is what grading does to me.
I know . . . I know, I do this to myself by insisting on final projects as well as a final exam. After what feels like the millionth time teaching Introduction to Theatre to students who are only taking it to fill a requirement, I’ve learned I have to do this to ensure they take anything about the class seriously.
Yet many of them still don’t.
I just entered the final grades into the system, and I’m waiting for the inevitable complaints from students who don’t want to take responsibility for their own work. Like the ones who “forgot” to turn in assignments when they were due, and want to turn them in now, after the semester has ended and the finals or done. Or the students who were on the track to an A, but didn’t bother to show up for the Final which is 15% of their grade. Or the students who will insist they worked hard on their final projects, but didn’t cite sources properly or write papers at a college level, or turned in something that could have been done by a middle-schooler. Or the student who complained that she didn’t have enough time to write the exam, telling me that exams are supposed to last 3 hours (I thought they were 2) and so I was unfair. She also knew all along that the exam period would be divided between exam and presentations. If she had approached me, I might have made accommodations. (To be fair, she didn’t do too badly even with her inability to finish.)
I admit, I’m burnt out. I’m jaded. I yearn to work in a system where the students value learning for learning’s sake, and the grades are secondary.
Of course, once in a while, in the mire that is grading, I discover a gem of hope. Like the student who said she’d never thought she’d take one theatre class, and yet enjoyed the class so much that she’s signed up for another one in the fall. Or the student who realized that what he learned in class has actual relevance to his life, even if he never sees another theatrical production. Or the student who realized that drama therapy may be the solution for her dealing with her personal mental issues, and that performance and art might be a way to heal.
These victories may be few and far between, but they are indeed victories.
For me, its all about the learning, and not about the grade.
That’s something, isn’t it?
Giving myself some flowers to brighten my day.