Posted by: L. E. Barnes | September 23, 2009

Grading Time

I’ve begun grading my students’ first writing project, which consisted of summaries of several articles we had been discussing. So far, the results aren’t too encouraging. In some cases, students didn’t do well on the assignment because they obviously lack good writing and critical thinking skills. Others, though their writing was fairly clear and largely free of grammatical or punctuation errors, simply did an inadequate job of summarizing the articles. I fear there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth” when I return their graded papers next week. (Just kidding… sort of.)  

This part of being a writing instructor makes me feel rather discouraged. On the one hand, I care about my students and really want to make a contribution to their lives; in particular, I want to motivate them to become better readers and writers. At the same time, I must uphold the school’s academic integrity and therefore keep the course sufficiently rigorous. How to balance these concerns is an issue I face every semester.

Doubtless, some students will get miffed over their grades. Hopefully none of them will be as ugly to me as a few students I’ve had in the past were, though I realize I have to let a student’s rudeness roll off me like water off a duck’s back if I want to stay in this field. My father, who has several degrees, remarked to me that he never had a professor who didn’t face criticism from at least some of the students, and I recall some of my own professors sharing about times when they had to deal with students who were quite confrontational over the grades they received. So one of the things I’ve had to reconcile myself to is that not all my students will like me. C’est la vie…

May God grant me a love for my students and the patience to deal with them.


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