Monthly Archives: December 2015

Peace Out Fall 2015


The holidays are upon us. No matter your religion, preference, or views, this time of year brings many things besides grading. After two lattes, I cut myself off and realized I needed to slow my grading roll for a few hours and do something else.

At the end of each semester, I like to try and stand back and observe my prior 15 weeks from the outside. This helps me plan, plan, plan for the weeks before the new term comes back around. While I’d like to drop the mic and all of my responsibilities, I cannot and neither can you. Planning is key for me to get set-up for the return of myself and my brain to work right after the New Year.

Before my car drives away to home and family, I outline what I want to get done and what I need to get done before classes begin again.

  • What did I forget or put on the back burner before I left? (hopefully nothing, but probably not)
  • How did classes go?
  • What changes do I need to note in syllabi for the next time I teach it while they’re still ‘fresh’ thoughts?
  • What outstanding things will come up over the holiday break that I might not be in town for? Did I take care of them before I left?
  • What do I need to come back and get to work on? (yes, a submission deadline is waiting)
  • What went well this semester that I should remember to acknowledge?

Some of this list involves me taking my mac home with me and I will likely do a little work during my break home, but it won’t be substantial, mostly managing any email. I also have a grant proposal that’s due right after the New Year that will need to be finished with my collaborators. Can’t do much about that unfortunately.

A lot of things went well this semester and this past calendar year. I met many submission deadlines, contributed to several grant projects, had several articles published, have grown the undergrad research team, sitting on graduate student committees, taught three classes this fall, and have what I hope will be a good piece of research to roll out in the spring based on the work the undergraduate research students I advise have worked on all fall. There’s a lot to be proud of and always more work to do. Before I leave, I’m going to take a pregnant pause and be proud of my accomplishments before I beat myself up over what I didn’t do this fall.

I hope you’ll take a moment to stand back and assess as well. It can be a great way to reflect while the information is still fresh in your mind and something as simple as jotting notes down can be helpful later on.

Enjoy your holiday season and I wish you some peace in your brain and in your email inbox.


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Grading…in Meme’s

I began this post by googling “grading meme’s” and was not prepared (at all) for the plethora of other folks who are much wittier than I who were populating the interwebs with countless meme’s that made me giggle.

It’s finals season and while the sarcastic jerk in me really wants to sing, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the faculty in me who will be grading really wants to crawl in a hole and die. I have to admit, I like grading less than I like almost any other responsibility that I have related to my job. I hate grading more than I hate paying my “adult” bills in real life. I loathe grading more than the sight of the toilet paper roll going in what I deem the “wrong” way. Grading is the bane of my existence but giving feedback is one of the most important aspects of my job as a teacher. See? The struggle is real.

I don’t see multiple choice tests as a good form of assessment in general for the course I’m thinking of, particularly on a final that is cumulative and the masochist in me could NOT give a multiple choice final so it chose essay’s for the final. Four of them from each student. I will be the biggest offender to my own undoing at the end of next week, but as I contemplated how I wanted to assess my students, I could not deliver a multiple choice test. Multiple choice is great for quick assessments, weekly check in’s and other things, but sometimes reading how a student weaves all of the content together is the best form of learning. With 60 students in one of my classes, I have given myself an assignment of epic proportions and I’m aware of this.

My graduate students have literature reviews due about their potential research for their thesis and the undergrad researchers have had several incremental deliverables due over the course of the semester that have included: extensive literature review, survey that is currently being piloted, draft of academic poster, press release for the public on the same topic, and a ‘zine for a middle school audience. I’ve really been pounding hard on the “know your audience” aspect the last few weeks to wrap this up.

Grading and assessing student learning can be both formative and summative for me as a teacher. While I can joke about my disdain for grading, I do understand that it is 100% necessary for me to do in order to help my students foster their own learning and move forward. If you need me over the next two weeks, please bring wine. Or melted cheese. Happy grading folks!