Tuesday, May 15
It's not really a secret at all, I assume, that most instructors hate grading. For me, it's not the commenting on papers that bothers me, because I actually very much enjoy doing that, and my students appreciate it. It's the deciding, especially at the end of the semester, what letter grade a student has earned, as if the whole 14 or so weeks -- all our conversations, their progress, their pitfalls, etc -- just boils down to this one thing. I always wonder what the student will think when s/he gets the grade, and whether or not that will affect how s/he feels about the class and the way it ended. Some people improve but still don't get the grade they probably hope for, especially in this age of grade inflation. I feel very strongly that I'm a fair-to-easy grader, and yet I still get occasional complaints that I'm a "hard" grader, even though it's extremely rare to get a "C" from me, and almost impossible to get below that.

Sigh. I just wanted to share. This time of year always makes me sad. I get so excited when I get a batch of new papers, so intrigued by what I'm about to read, but then at the end when I have to put a letter grade to it, I just feel a bit defeated. And no, I don't particularly think that doing away with grades altogether will help at the moment, since most students are motivated by their grades to do things like attend class and do at least some of the reading.

For the record, I also think grading grad students is a joke. Is there really a need to assign a letter grade to some of the most feedback-obsessed, masochistic people in the world? I've never heard a grad student say anything like, "I just want my A in this class, and then I'm outta here."
Wednesday, May 2
It seems like my school is teeming with student-athletes and just about anything is considered a sport in this joint. I've become accustomed to notification from the athletics department about who's going to be absent and requests to be as accomodating as I can, and I've heard from students that I'm more sympathetic to the plights of student athletes than most.

That was then, and this is now.

A couple weeks back that all went to crap when one of my student-athletes lied to me about missing class for a badminton tournament. He asked to make up the in-class assignment, and I told him I'd check with the athletics office because I hadn't heard about the badminton tournament. Well, when I checked, the coordinator told me that there weren't any excused absences for the badminton team that day. I emailed the student her reply, and suggested he have his coach talk to me if there was some sort of error. I heard nothing, until today.

Today, when he emailed me about his grade that's stuck somewhere between a B+ and an A-. Today, when he who lied to me and I probably could have pursued it as academic dihonesty, told me that it wasn't fair because I hadn't offered enough opportunities for him to make up the work he missed (I dropped the three scores, but he wanted more). Today, when he played the poor-pitiful-student-athlete card. Today, when the semester is already over and all that remains is his final exam.

I am afraid that my view of student athletes is eternally tarnished - all because of the one bad-minton player.