It is amazing how much my opinion of the world improves after I finish grading.
There are a lot of positives to being a teacher, but grading can be one of the more difficult pieces. I can think of at least three reasons for this: it is tedious and repetitive to look over an assignment 30 (or 50, or 100) times, it isn’t easy to watch the people you care about struggle with a subject that you care about, and it sometimes can feel like your students haven’t been listening to your lessons. Beyond that, there are students who feel that grades are negotiable, as if their performance on an assignment was not input enough and there should be some other types of merit that deserve credit on an algebra assignment.
I can’t remember the person who told me “You don’t have to take it personally to take it seriously.” I have tried to pass that on to a few of my students who took my feedback as a personal insult rather than as a guide to improvement. I have to remind myself of that at times, especially after a marathon grading session. Giving feedback is an important piece of teaching, and being able to find your own mistakes isn’t an easy exercise for people of any age. This also goes for me as I have to grade… I remind myself that I have taught these lessons dozens of times, but they may very well be learning it for the first time.
As teachers, we need to remember that our voices get amplified. We speak from positions of experience and authority, and that can be devastating if it is heavy-handed, and quite empowering if it is encouraging. I have said it before: patience isn’t a virtue, it is an absolute necessity.
Which is to say, I need to forgive myself for getting frustrated by my recent round of grading. Holy crapnuggets, I don’t know for whom it was worse: them for having to do only semi-understood material or for me to go through and try to give them feedback. And I feel that restraining my sarcasm may deserve some sort of medical intervention some days.
So when grading: Breathe in. Breathe out. And remember to swear to yourself.