I just hit “submit” on William & Mary’s Banner Self-Service for Faculty page and sent all the grades to the registrar. The semester’s over! (Pause for cheers.)

I only taught one seminar this semester: English 368, Creative Writing–Fiction. Every class is different; what really struck me about this group was that their writing actually improved over the course of the semester. And yes, that’s what you aim for when you teach writing–it just doesn’t always happen.

It was a small class-sixteen students–but each of them wrote a total of 20,000 words over the course of the semester. That was a lot of final draft to read.

I like teaching. But grading, like writing itself, is one of those things that lends itself to, er, procrastination. The week went something like this…

1. Took papers to the dentist, intending to read in the waiting room. But the dentist had People! Obviously, no competition there.

2. Sat down to grade papers. Played Spider Solitaire. Promised myself I would stop and grade papers as soon as I won. Won. Promised myself I would stop and grade papers as soon as I won in under ten minutes.

3. Promised myself I would stop and grade papers as soon as I read the first chapter of the new Emily Giffin novel. Read first chapter. Read second chapter. Finished new Emily Giffin novel.

4. Decided I needed snack before grading papers. Made jelly cookies. Made chocolate butterscotch cookies. Made brownies. Decided to go for run.

5. Noticed that doors to boys’ rooms were covered with greasy fingerprints, dog nose prints, and random black smears. Washed doors with nice hot bleach solution so I could concentrate on grading papers without thinking about dirt.

6. Took papers to favorite restaurant. Promised myself I would finish grading at least two papers before ordering. Waiter was extremely prompt, and promptness should be rewarded. Ordered. Food came too fast. Obviously, can’t grade papers while eating–might get food on papers.

7. Took papers to pool to grade while watching kids swimming. Kids keep yelling, “Watch this, Mom!” Clearly, must watch kids perform amazing stunts (i.e., jumping into pool backwards while making seal noises, throwing ball at sibling’s head with great force, etc.).

8. Actually finished grading a paper.

9. Decided it would be easier to grade remaining papers if I constructed detailed rubric. Began to write rubric out on laptop. Realized that all folders on desktop needed renaming.

10. Graded another paper.

11. Cleaned nine-year-old’s room.

12. Graded another paper.

13. Graded another paper.

14. Ate some cookies.

15. Graded another paper.

16. Graded another…

Hey, did I mention that the semester’s over?

Showing 5 comments
  • Bethany

    #9- i would SO do that. computers are very distracting. (so are cookies and books. i would so do those, too.)

    #5- reminds me of the freelance editing job i did last fall– i had to go to panera bread to work even if nobody was home, because otherwise i’d sit my computer in front of the window to minimize the distractions and suddenly notice all the dead bugs on the sill that i never notice any other time, and i couldn’t work with dead bugs on the sill…

    #2- oh, spider solitaire. excellent idea. i set my router to kick me off facebook at 11:45 so i’d have to go to bed earlier, and now it won’t recognize my password so i can change the setting, which really ticks me off because i have scrabble turns to take. so now that you have reminded me, i will further delay my bedtime by playing spider solitaire.

  • Erika

    That was really funny; sounds just like my life. Thanks for the giggles….

  • Christina

    Ha, this is how I feel when I’m cleaning my house…there is always something more pressing to be done (you gave some fine examples…bake cookies, eat them, watch kids…)
    I’m glad it’s over for you!

  • Pam

    Oh, my! I could have written every comment in your blog. We, too, have Banner and I locked my grades about two weeks ago (and have since started summer school). I put off grading until the last minute (always) and have a plan to burn all of my red ink pens in a inferno of a campfire the day after retirement!

    Happy “End of the Semester” dance from me!

  • Nick N

    Yes I was glad when my semester was done for grad school. Wish I had you as a professor though, and not some of my more, well, umm, uptight instructors. As always though you lend an ever expanding insight into the life of a great writer and professor. There is certainly more appreciation for all you do. Enjoy the summer and good luck with the procrastination next semester.

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