I just spent 2 intensely focused hours – after dinner, after cleaning up, after cooking my son’s school meals, after bathing and putting to bed the little one, after our evening prayer – grading 37 of one-page papers. Yes, there were comments, some critical questions, and some smiley faces. I really love teaching. I love my students (most of them, on most days). But really I do not enjoy grading papers very much. I am a writing teacher, so how can I avoid reading and evaluating student papers? I guess I can’t.
I’ve heard of teachers using some very creative ways to give feedback to students. Some type their comments directly onto students’ electronic papers, some Podcast or even video-conference their comments, and others do face-to-face conferences instead of written comments. Even as I hate having to grade so many papers in so short a time, I still think a comment on paper with overall comments is the best way to offer feedback. Perhaps I’m just too afraid to try something new, but I do think that when done correctly, written comments can give students concrete “look” (literally on their physical papers) at their papers – I use arrows, highlights, and diagrams sometimes to make my point. Of course, we don’t want to inundate students with too many comments or be vague in our comments – that’s the art of grading that I’m striving to achieve: How can I be efficient in my grading but also offer sufficient comments that are helpful and concrete? Ah, that’s the million dollar question.