Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Conquering Mountains of Essays

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 22nd, 2015

A philosopher friend once told me about a concept he called "work-work balance." As we progress in our careers, he explained, we should seek an acceptable equilibrium between tasks we enjoy and ones we don’t, ultimately spending more time on the former and less on the latter. That sounded right to me, and I have endeavored over the years to do just that.
Unfortunately for those of us who teach multiple sections of writing-intensive courses, that balance can be difficult to achieve. As much as we enjoy teaching — and maybe even advising, class prep, and other aspects of our jobs — there’s simply no escaping the part most of us don’t enjoy, or at least enjoy less: grading all those essays. That daunting chore seems always to be hanging over our heads and can easily become all-consuming, if we let it.
I have simply resolved not to let it. Despite teaching at least four sections of first-year rhetoric and composition each semester, I refuse to let my work life, much less my entire life, be defined by this one potentially unpleasant task. And so, over the years, I have developed an approach to grading that I believe enables me to serve my students well, while at the same time maintaining a degree of sanity and actually enjoying my job.

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