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Monday, October 8, 2018

Why I don't grade papers after school

Do you find yourself grading all the time?

Do you want to know a secret? I stopped grading papers after hours and am always the first teacher to sign out grades before the end of each quarter.

How do I do it? I plan for it. Follow these 3 guidelines for grading and you will be a pro at leaving grading at school and having more personal time outside of school.

1. Plan 

What are you grading? For each subject you are grading, think of the categories it can be broken down into such as classwork, homework, and tests.  

Why are you grading it? For each category, think about why you're grading it. Does it need to be graded? If yes keep the category, if no do not grade it. 

Does it have an academic value? If there is no academic value to the work, then don't grade it! This is the most important step in planning to grade. If there is no academic value in an assignment and it cannot be tied to a standard, then the students should not be held accountable for completing it. 

Can you narrow down your assignments? My rule of thumb is 9 to 10 assignments for homework (1 per week of each quarter) is graded. 1 test for each chapter, which is about 2-3 tests each quarter. 5-6 classwork assignments each quarter. So I only assign and grade 16 to 19 assignments each quarter per student. I pre-plan these on a calendar and display it in the classroom for students to see and will email it to parents who need it to help their students turn in assignments on time.  

Also I love my EZ grader! If you don't have one, you need to get one. It's my favorite gift to give student teachers or first year teachers. It calculates the grades for you every time. (Affiliate link included).

2. Follow Through

Now that you've thought about your categories for grading, list the assignments on a calendar. When and how many are you going to assign? List them on the calendar and follow through with assigning and grading a limited amount. When I write them on a calendar ahead of time I might not have a specific assignment name already, so I just pre-plan and write "Assignment 1" and so on. This helps me plan when to grade at school.

Another strategy for only grading at school is having other do it for you. I have used the "trade and grade" method for small quizzes and homework. I have also used student assistants to grade homework assignments. It's helpful in that most of the work is done, but you will still probably need to glance at each assignment to make sure it's completed to your specifications.

Do you have students who do not perform well on tests the first time? Do you like to give them opportunities to retry or makeup the work? I found a strategy that helps with test retakes. It also helps me with less grading, and students earn higher test scores. It's a win win in my book! Check out the video below about using test retakes to help your students achieve higher results.

3. Reflect 

Did you stick to your goals? Did you not bring home any grading? Did you leave when your teacher duty day was done? If you YES, then you are well on your way to starting a successful habit of not grading after hours. You need a break. You deserve a break. Let yourself have the time after school to rest, relax, and enjoy your family and friends. 

These suggestions and ideas are meant to be reflective of your grading practices. When we reflect as teachers on what we are doing in the classroom, we continue to grow and mature into better teachers. Think about how you currently grade, what you currently grade, the time it takes you to grade, and how you could make the process more efficient. My favorite motto for teaching is "Work smarter, not harder." There is so much on our plates as teachers, let's simplify the process of grading and make it more efficient.

Happy Teaching!