Sunday, November 22, 2009

Final Papers

All week, I've been procrastinating on grading my final papers for Colorado. It was 6 classes worth of final papers, which dictate the final grade...which means in sending back the feedback, I also have to finalize the Other Stuff. So it's a bit of a pain.

But then, I sit down to do them. These students with whom I've spent the last 15 weeks, giving feedback, suggestions, hints for writing, and lessons online...they have grown SO MUCH. The papers are so good! It reminds me why I teach. Great things have been happening!

I love, love, love watching the human spirit evolve...even if it's just about writing an academic research paper.

First papers I get can be a bit overwhelming to grade. Where to begin? Entire papers written as one paragraph, proofreading issues galore, MLA formatting a mess, etc etc. I grade generously on the first one (and tell them that) to offset the comments they get. That way, I don't break their spirit and they're more receptive to my thoughts. I just want to open up the conversation with them.

And, I'm a bit annoying...as I don't really care about the Little Stuff. I don't insert commas, talk about run-on sentences, whatever. I only focus on the Global Stuff. The things that apply to any paper, not just a specific paper. By the time I'm finished with a student, entire paragraphs will have been renovated...so that comma on sentence 4 of paragraph 2 on page 1...well, it's not even that same sentence. And I've found that raising the level of the Big Stuff trickles down to the little stuff. When they've spent that much time revising, they'll just get a better sense for commas, too. Funny how that happens.

When I started teaching, I loved it immediately. The energy of being in a classroom? Addicting beyond description. I NEED to teach. But now...10 years later... it feels really good to be good at it, too. To see that I can help to shape these students into better writers than they were before. That I'm making a difference. I love it!

2 comments:

H F W said...

SB, how did you get sooo wise? Gosh, I can relate because I, too, taught English classes and graded never-ending papers. But reading this makes me think of more than just grading papers -- raising kids, too. We can teach them to focus on the big picture or we can knit pick about the little things with our kids like toys being on the floor or about misused commas in the papers we grade. If we do our jobs well, the sentence won't even be the same so we won't have to worry about those misused commas. Hoping I don't sound like I'm coming out of left field. Anyway, thanks again for even more inspiration and insight.

Sarahbeth said...

I love it! I can definitely see the parallels. How cool. You're pretty wise yourself, mama. :)