I feel incredible. I must remember this feeling.
It’s 6 pm on the night of my grading deadline. My grades are due in 6 hours, and I am finished. Not only am I finished, they are up to date and accurate.
As a high school English teacher, I excel at content knowledge and creating meaningful assignments. I also strike an excellent balance of intimidating, inspiring, and hilarious.
Giving timely feedback and returning graded work? I’m shit. I’ve always been shit.
Last year I was overwhelmed by the social/emotional needs of my students. I erroneously believed I had to meet all of their needs and take it easy on them. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. My AP test scores were appalling. I took it so “easy” on them that while we had excellent rapport and loads of fun, I didn’t challenge them adequately. I have to do the things I have control over. I can teach writing. I can teach reading. I can show Saturday Night Live sketches and teach them about satire.
And I can grade papers.
For 23 years I’ve let stacks accumulate until the work is so daunting, I have had to pick and choose what to grade and what to estimate. I’ve felt insecure about my grades, so I’ve let counselors, students, and parents talk me into changing them.
Today, that ends! I have earned this new episode of House of the Dragon I’m about to watch. Earned it and then some. As of tomorrow, I have 170 revised essays to read and score, but that’s a problem for Future Me. I used to treat Future Me like absolute garbage — as if I had a personal vendetta against that bitch and her crepey neck skin.
This year, my teaching goal is current, accurate grades. When it comes down to brass tacks, students (mostly) only care about the grade, not the learning. I could spend another 23 years stomping my aching feet over my philosophical objections to the emphasis on grades, or I can drink this margarita and watch dragons.