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Do you have Grading Fatigue Syndrome?

stack of papersSome days I just can’t get motivated.

I can’t believe I’m the only one who struggles with Grading Fatigue Syndrome. Right? I mean it’s not even that I don’t want to read their papers. My students write incredibly interesting content. I know for a fact that there is an instruction manual waiting for me titled “How to Clean Your Bearded Dragon”. Pretty interesting stuff, right? So where’s the hang-up?

I’ve been sitting in my office now for several hours slowly making my way through a list of smaller tasks. Emailing colleagues. Checking social media. Researching for an upcoming project. But, I also have three assignments that I need to grade, and, yet, here I am writing a blog post. What is it about grading that makes me lethargic?

I have some thoughts…

Maybe it’s completing the rubric that makes the process feel so factory-production-line-esque. Here I sit, reading papers that sometimes coordinate around the same idea, but often times not. But I try to fit them into these numeric columns, imposing my judgment and assigning my students’ work a definitive value in different areas. Then, I calculate the total and bam! Your paper is worth X. Next. Sometimes it all seems so impersonal and too data-driven. But, at the same time, I understand and see the need for such tools. I like big data. I cannot lie. I enjoy being able to calculate percentages. Averages. Grades-to-date. But, I also must admit that rubrics and tabulations just make the process feel icky sometimes.

Or, maybe it’s that I feel like I’m always grading. Morning, noon, night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Weekday, weekend. I know it’s part of the job. But (and I realize this is the result of my own choices), I grade papers for over 100 students a term. Each of my classes has 3-4 major assignments. 5-6 smaller assignments. Start doing the math. I know…it’s crazy. As my husband reminds me, “Who’s giving them all that work anyway?” But, how else am I to know if my students are understanding the concepts in class than by requiring them to regurgitate information in the form they think I want it in?

Or, maybe it’s just that some days I want to be lazy. Maybe I would just way rather be on Facebook. Sending emails. Researching. And whatever else I’ve been doing today. Maybe I’d rather do any of these things than sit down to a stack (or virtual stack) of papers. My mind wanders. And, sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to reel it back in.

Sometimes, I have no problems sitting down to grade. I have a to-do list. I know my deadlines. I knock them out. No fatigue. And, earlier this week, I sat down to grade assignments that had been submitted when they weren’t even due yet. I think many of those days start out with a warm coffee drink from my favorite coffee shop. But, let’s be honest, I can’t do that every day. Can I?

So, what tips do you have? How do you stay focused and get through those stacks of papers? Feel free to send your responses. I’ll be checking my email.

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