I collected (most of) the research papers from my Monday class yesterday and, while this morning’s class was deeply engaged in a grammar and comma quiz, I began the task of reading and grading them.
My experience with the Monday kids has taught me that my expectations should be very low. Sadly, not only have I not been disappointed, but I’ve had to readjust a bit to accommodate the reality of what the students submitted.
After about the fourth paper, I knew it was time to call in reinforcements. Organic Mama is also an English teacher (and a fine one, at that) and has a wealth of experience as an editor; she is the first person I go to when I need to do a reality-check on my standards or my grading performance. Fortunately, she had invited my chicklets and me to dinner at her place tonight, so I brought my paper-filled briefcase along.
I gave Mama a paper that I hadn’t read yet – one that happened to be from one of the strongest students in the class – and asked her to read it. She couldn’t mark or edit it (which made her a little crazy) because I didn’t want her corrections influencing my reading of the paper. My idea was that we would both read the student’s work, assess it based on the rubric I’d created, then compare notes.
When it was all over, we came to damned near the same grade for this representative paper. She graded a little harder on one standard than I did, and I graded a little harder on one standard than she did, but we were dead-on with everything else.
This tells me two things. The first thing this tells me is that I am being neither overly lenient nor overly harsh in my grading standards. I’ve gotten confirmation from Mama that I’m looking at the papers in a balanced and considered way.
The second thing it tells me is that I am not being an unreasonable, irrational bitch when I say that these papers objectively suck.