It’s Monday. It’s April. The sun is shining. It’s official. I have spring fever and so do my students. We need to make it to the end of the semester. FOUR MORE WEEKS! You got this. Summertime is right around the corner. We can make it to the finish line.
I generally schedule due dates on Mondays. Most of my students have told me they appreciate this day of the week in submitting assignments because it gives them the entire weekend to get the job done. Many of my students work at least one job outside of school and find assignment deadlines during the week challenging. Therefore, Monday has become our agreed upon due date day. Each due date is posted for the entire semester on a Due Dates calendar available on the first day of class in the Blackboard course menu. I also send due date reminders via all-class e-mails and Announcement Board posts. Dodging due dates is simply not possible, unless students are purposely not paying attention or something tragic has occurred, prohibiting them from keeping up with assignments.
At this point in the semester the serious students are here to stay. The required withdrawal date has come and gone and we’re all in this together until the end. And it’s my job to coach them and hopefully end on a high note. As of today there are 10 students consistently submitting assignments in my English 0482 course, 18 students in one of my English 0492 sections and and 16 students in my other English 0492 online course. I assign one Discussion Board assignment per week (requiring an initial post in response to a prompt and then following up with 2 posts to their classmates), one essay assignment and one reading response assignment, for a grand total of 220 assignments to grade each week (and that’s not counting the 8-week English 1102 course that ended a few weeks ago that had another 19 students).
Each assignment can take up to 30 minutes or longer to evaluate depending on the purpose and scope of the assignment, so that’s about 110 hours of work in grading alone. I am not a machine, but I feel like sometimes I grade like one. I read, comment and highlight every assignment before uploading the final grade in Blackboard. I grade in the morning, afternoon and evening and do my best to grade within a short window of time so students can begin revising and reflecting and begin the next assignment. I don’t usually think about grading in terms of number of hours, but when I stop to tally the numbers, it is an enormous chunk of time behind the computer screen. Grading, grading, grading. I’d better log off now and get back at it. My students are waiting.