Saturday, December 12, 2015

Not All That Glitters is Gold - Being a Writing Instructor -

This past semester I have taught 3 entry-level college writing classes. There are 23 students in each class. They are required to write 3+ papers plus an expository research paper of 7-12 pages.

23x3=69. 69x4=276 (x approx. 30 pages per student = 8280). And though I do much better with words than numbers, that's one hell of a lot of papers (and pages) to grade.

Paper 1, 3-5 pages: First Kiss (Gets me acquainted with my students' writing skills, and the students can write this one! Plus, folklorist Ronda says this is a great document for the students to have in their life history.)

Paper 2, 3-5 pages: How To (How to make a sandwich, change a tire, peel an orange, avoid the zombie apocalypse. The student chooses, and now that they have their first paper graded by me, I can see how well they can take what they've learned and apply it.)

Paper 4, 7-9 pages: Expository Research Paper, and I assign the topic, which is: My Name (Typically 1010 students spend most of their time trying to decide what to write about, then they choose a gigantic subject, and their paper turns into a cut and paste paper. Assigning my students this topic gets rid of that mess, and again, they have a personal interest, and it's a great addition to their life story.)

Paper 4 also requires about 10 pages of pre-work.

Paper 5, 3-5 pages: Persuade Me (This is the segue into the next writing class, Argumentative Writing. Their topics have ranged from going to Disneyland vs. a road trip, benefits of getting married, women in combat, Utah's snow, benefits of living in Iowa.)

Paper 6, 1 page: Final (Course evaluation)

And my happy bright energetic eyes that approached the first, and even second, paper have dimmed. And I am tired of grading papers, putting grades into the gradebook, pushing myself to getting these papers out of my house, and the romance is far over.

Every semester, about this time, I swear I will cut down on my teaching for the next semester, and it doesn't happen, because I love teaching. But I promise, grading bites, and it is not pretty, not kind, not sparkly. Ask Scott.

I want December to be bright white snow sparkling in the morning sun, carols on iTunes, the scent of gingerbread cookies and peanut brittle in the air, and me wandering through the mall looking for the perfect gift for my loved ones. Oh - and writing a really witty Christmas letter and spending quality and quantity time with family.

Bah-humbug. Rather, I get Scott and I bickering, a pine-scented candle burning, no Christmas tree or Christmas lights (inside or out), Christmas gifts consisting of things that can be purchased online, in-between grading, or at the hospital gift shop, Chik-fil-a lunches with children and grands, and I'm tighter than a piece of freshly pulled taffy. And still - final grades need to be tabulated, and students will whine, and grades need to be reported, and hopefully by Dec. 22 school is over. Oh, but wait - I still have 2 other jobs and their commitments and deadlines.

Happy freakin' holidays to you.

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