So yesterday, I spent a good part of the day surrounded by paper – okay, so I spend a good part of every day surrounded by paper, but yesterday it was worse. I went to my office, picked up two full boxes of grading and trudged home with it (only to get a flat tire on the way – isn’t that just the way?) I perched on my chaise lounge with Christmas cookies on my left and graded for hours. And I only made a small dent . . . . I still have binders and binders full of portfolios to grade.

And here’s what my dilemma is – if this was mid-semester, I would sit and carefully comment on all the students’ work, paying attention to type and amount of commentary, trying to explain myself clearly and fully – because at mid-semester, the students could (but probably won’t) use my commentary for their next assignment. The same could be said for end of the semester grading, but as all teachers know, most students don’t read the commentary at the end of the semester; in fact, most students don’t even pick up their final assignments once they’re graded.

So here’s my conundrum . . . I told them I would give them good commentary if they gave me their addresses. I would write up my thoughts and then mail their portfolios back to them. I will do so because I said I would. But I have to be aware of two things – I have only so many hours between now and when grades are due (and yes, I realize I’m spending a few precious minutes writing this post :)) and so I must be speedy in my commentary; secondly, even though they’ve said they will read my feedback, I know they won’t spend much time with it – I never did. Once Christmas break hit when I was in college, I was done. . . partially because there was nothing I could do about the course at that point but also partially because I was exhausted, too burnt to take in any more information. So today I will spend my day balancing not only my time but my sanity by trying to give enough feedback to be clear but not so much that I feel defeated or have to stay awake all night.

Do any of you have any suggestions for how to keep this balance?