depression / Work

Grading Blues


While I’ve some lovely plans over the weekend, someway, somehow, I have to cram a shit-ton of essay grading into the mix, and as I tell my students quite often (whenever one brings up how much he/she hates writing essays), I hate grading with a burning, seething passion.  I hate it with every fiber of my “nitpicky” — word du jour students use to describe my grading practices — being. I once didn’t hate it so much, but that was back when student writing contained some worthwhile substance, and the general writing skills…well…existed.

Student writing now seems to consist of…

  1. …strong development and grammar, decent spelling, but no soul, no depth. (Often teens who are good test takers)
  2. …weak development, poor grammar, decent (basic) spelling, plenty of substance and soul. (Often ESOL learners &/or adult learners who simply don’t have time to read)
  3. …weak development, decent grammar, decent (basic) spelling, but no soul, no depth. (Often late teens-20somethings who just don’t care)
  4. …weak development having not understood the directions, awful grammar and spelling, incoherent to the point where I cannot figure out if student in question even has a soul (?????????)
  5. ...some sort of combination of a handful of the above.

What goes on in my head during the grading process has since become a variation of the Kubler-Ross model…

  1. DENIAL. By the twentieth paper, everything is just fine. No matter. All Will Be Better By Papers #21-30. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what I’m reading and assessing, really. This is such a small sample. It doesn’t show me anything at all.
  2. ANGER. I hate all and everything about this, and I cannot believe that they didn’t listen to a goddamn word I said. I shall display my rage accordingly. They will feel my wrath.


    3.  BARGAINING. I could offer an additional assignment as extra credit, but only on the condition they do exactly as I say and follow my directions accordingly. They might just be able to prove their allegiance–I MEAN, they might be able to prove to me that they’ve learned something…anything…

4. DEPRESSION. It’s official. I am the world’s worst teacher. I want to cry into a bottle of Woodford bourbon laced with anthrax coupled with a side of despondency.


5. ACCEPTANCE. I am the world’s worst writing teacher, but it’s not entirely my fault because these students were short-changed to begin with. No one introduced them to books. No one introduced them to the written language. No one introduced them to much of anything. It’s okay though. I can get through this because I have a plan…

I have anti-anxiety medication and a rubric.

All is right with the world.

12 thoughts on “Grading Blues

  1. I hope you’re weekend plans pan out and maybe you get a stress-free day without worrying about topic sentences and such.I don’t think you’re alone in your frustrations. Around here, most public schools are geared towards performances on achievement tests. They grill the kids pretty hard for those yet seem to fail in providing them with a good grounding in the basics. I have a few buddies who teach writing on the college level who talk about similar problems. Hang in there, ma’am.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi M. Jennings,
    I’m Janice from Mostly Blogging. We have much in common:
    I am also a teacher, I LOVE and miss Psych, and I think I once guest posted for Ryan Watches Films. It was a long time ago. I was an entertainment blogger then.
    Now, I blog about blogging. Thank you for visiting my site. I’m glad you liked my post about how to get a blog post to go viral. Nice to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Janice, I thought your blog (and not just the viral posting) most helpful/insightful, so thank you very much for it! I am in the process of figuring out an online “identity” within the blogging community, so any and all advice is always great to have.

      Regarding Ryan Watches Films, funny, I actually started reading his blog on account of a link to it from yours. I love pop culture and all that it entails, and good “voices” remarking on it are always fun.

      Anyway, nice to meet you as well, and thank you for stopping by, fellow teacher (and blogger extraordinaire)!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear M.Jennings,
        Hi again,
        1. Thank you for the compliments on my blog and calling me a Blogger Extraordinaire!
        2. You said you were trying to figure out an “online” identity. I actually wrote a post that might help you do that.I hate to promote on your blog, but you said you would welcome any and all advice, so here is the link that tells you how to find and maintain an online identity:
        3. Since you did say you’d welcome any and all advice, I will go even further out on that self-promotion limb and say I’d love to have your follow. That’s what I do at my site–I give blogging advice. There are even free incentives for following my blog.
        4. I love pop culture as well which is initially why I was an entertainment blogger. My elective class each spring actually becomes a magazine class. Since I love pop culture, the students and I made a pop culture magazine. That way, even though I don’t blog about entertainment any more, I can still keep my hand in.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I loved writing in college (and writing in general), but freshman composition was a nightmare simply because professors didn’t offer any sort of constructive teaching tips and the feedback was so vague. As for now, those of us in the trenches often find ourselves doing nothing BUT writing an extensive amount of feedback because the skills are severely lacking (this has only been so within the last decade, really). I’ve colleagues who complain that their students don’t read and then use the feedback, but I only find that to be true with the utterly apathetic students, not the ones who genuinely wish to improve. It gives me a little…a LITTLE…hope. If only they’d been taught how to write much earlier on.


  3. I’m giving it away to you, after my thirty-six years of trying to develop a workable grading system. State required a six-point scale. I’ll find that and post it. It’s all a mish-mash: RESEARCH PAPERS GRADING

    “Operational Definitions Addendum” in Syllabus.)
    • Essentials: correct, concise, coherent, clear, consistent, complete

    Overall Sense of Grade:
    A = WOW!
    B = OK.
    C = HO-HUM.
    D = YIKES!

    A = WOW!
    Correct grammar, syntax, usage, proofreading
    Unified –with transitions
    Clear vocabulary and purpose
    Coherent and organized within structure: sentences and paragraphs
    Concise and correct sentence structures
    Complete and satisfying, researched well
    Aware of reader

    B = OK.
    Unified structure
    Clear purpose
    Weak point of view
    Structured paragraphs
    Generally correct grammar and usage
    Weak transition use
    Some detailed information
    Aware of reader
    Weak verbs

    C = HO-HUM!
    Wordy, repetitive
    Adequate in structure
    Frequent or significant errors
    Little detail and support
    Cursory treatment of subject (usually a short paper)
    Forgetful of audience
    Weak or no transitions

    D = YIKES!
    Distracting errors, loose paragraphs, limited use of sources, vague conclusions

    “What a waste of time doing this! What was this student thinking!?”

    Liked by 1 person

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