Teaching Hub

Be the Grader that You Wish to See in the World

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies

Final grades are due tomorrow! My colleague mentioned that eating cold cereal thrice daily was the norm over the weekend in order to minimize the time not spent writing comments on essays, verifying spreadsheet formulates, cross-checking assignments with rubrics, and all the other, sometimes mind-numbing tasks that arrive at the end of the term. And this is not to mention the host of final committee meetings that must take place to wrap up end-of-term business. Professors’ heads hurt at this time of the year.

The end of term is when some fairly typical jokes and rants start popping up in our social media feeds. Last February, Jesse Stommel wrote an important post about this. One of his key points was this:

  • Treat the least privileged among us with the most respect.
  • Recognize that the job of a teacher is to advocate for students, especially in an educational system currently under direct threat at almost every turn.
  • Laugh at ourselves and not at those we and our system have made most vulnerable.
  • Rant up, not down.

I think this is sage counsel to consider before writing a version of “that student joke” or “that grading rant.” The responses to that post are instructive, too.

Stommel shared a follow-up post today, and among its many notable points, this paragraph gave me pause:

“We must recognize the ways that the failure to acknowledge students as full agents in their learning is a process that runs immediately parallel to the failure to acknowledge teachers as full agents in the classroom.”

Happy grading!

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