Saturday, September 08, 2007

Recovered Weekends

When I reflect back on my weekends as a teacher, I get a knot in my stomach. Toward the end of my teaching career, I was swamped with students. It was nothing like the beginning of my career when I had small classes and not a lot of take-home work to do.

But just two years ago, I was teaching six straight classes without a break, save for lunch. And I had so many students that extra desks had to be brought in to hold them. I believe I topped out at 193 students. Just between us folks, that's several carloads too many.

So by the first weekend of the school year, I was bringing home mountains of work to grade. When you have that many in a room, you just don't have time to even begin grading papers during the period. So my weekends consisted of sitting in the recliner with a seven-inch tall stack of papers, grading them one by one. Often, I didn't have enough time to finish, and I'd begin the week in arrears. Those ungraded papers would hang over me like Edgar Allen Poe's pendulum, slowing slicing away at my outlook on teaching.

It was one of the main reasons I retired a couple years ahead of when I wanted. Needless to say, I enjoy my Sats and Suns so much more these days. I have my life back.


Heather said...

I don't know about you but I'm the procrastination guru, when it comes to doing things I don't like.

Brooke said...

I just finished grading a stack of papers. I have fewer kiddos this year, so it felt like I did it at record speed. I had, oh...about 100 less than you when you had all of those Katrina kids. 100 papers is at least an hours more work. If it is a complicated paper, it could mean several more hours. How did you do it?

Tim Perkins said...

My classes generally generated at least one set of homework per child per day, minus the usual ones who didn't do homework. So I had a fresh 175 or so papers to grade each day.

On the occasional rare evening when I had some time and still had some energy, I would try to cut into the stack and get some graded. But it evolved into a weekend phenomenon and many, many hours were required to dispatch hundreds and hundreds of papers. As I said, in the end I was unable to grade them all.

I've been asked why I didn't use a student grader. The nature of the work I assigned required my expertise, if you will, to grade it. I could have designed work, I suppose, where students merely did multiple choice stuff and thereby giving me an easier out. But I just couldn't do it. I wanted them to be thinking and to give answers that reflected a little thought and research.

It's a workable plan if one has 120 or less students.

Tim Perkins said...

Also, I had only two Katrina kids. The ridiculous numbers represented a deliberate decision by DISD to avoid bringing another teacher to Hood to relieve the overcrowded classes.

Bill Sturm said...

Youch! You make being a teacher sound so wonderful! (Cough)