October 16, 2006

Aerobic grading

One thing I hate about grading papers is that it's sedentary work. And sedentary pursuits don't ever do much for my mood. Stacking firewood, mowing the lawn, shovelling snow, gardening, or working on trails are chores that force me outside and put me in a happier mood. Sitting at a desk indoors grading papers makes me feel like a slug. Really, I think I was meant to be a farmer and not an academic.

So with this last batch of essays I had to grade, I tricked myself. I left my computer downstairs, and I carried the essays up to my daughter's bedroom. Her small room is the only neat, clean room in the house, the one place where I won't be tempted to do housework. So I sat on her bed under black-and-white posters of Paris, looked across at the books lined up neatly on her white bookshelf, glanced at the fall foliage outside her windows, and graded essays.

Normally, I take a break after each essay to check my email, surf blogs, or get a snack. Yes, I take a break after EACH essay. Pathetic but true. But because I was upstairs, every single time I wanted to take a break, I found myself going down the stairs – checking my email, grabbing a snack – and then running back up the stairs. By the time I was done grading all sixty essays, I had run up and down the stairs sixty times.

No, it didn't make the grading any faster, but it did make me feel less like a slug.

21 comments:

Ianqui said...

Very clever! And congratulations for not getting tempted to move back downstairs about 20 papers in.

halloweenlover said...

Each essay? That made me chuckle a bit. But I'm the same way with reviewing docs at work. I have to force myself not to stop in the middle of a doc and go get a snack or something.

Repressed Librarian said...

What a great plan! I think I will try something similar with the dozens of articles I have to add metadata to this week.

Rev Dr Mom said...

I used to grade papers in the coffe shop at Barnes and Noble becasue I was less distracted there than at home.

And I studied at a coffee shop in NYC for the same reason.

I write sermons sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop; again less distracting --at present can't pick up the wireless signal there!

Yankee, Transferred said...

I can just see you running up and down the stairs. You are a hoot!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

LOL! Youa re so cute, jo(e)!!!

I miss you!!! WAHN!

Ancrene Wiseass said...

That's marvelous! Now I'm wishing there were two stories at my place so I could imitate you.

I so hear you about wanting to do housework in messy rooms, rather than actually focus on the grading: since my place is almost always messier than I want it to be, I usually just have to leave if I actually want to get anything done.

Teri said...

Hey - that's a great idea. I wonder if I can work it into my day...

Anonymous said...

You've gotta tell your students about the workout they gave you.

Jules said...

I envy your students! I remember what it was like to be an undergrad, and I remember having some profs who let it show when they happened to grade your paper at the end of the stack. I would have been thrilled to have a prof who took breaks in between each essay -- seems like there's a much better chance of getting clear-headed, fair feedback. Keep it up!

What Now? said...

When I was teaching at Grad School, which had a multi-story library on campus, I used to take a stack of grading to the library. I'd sit down at a table on the first floor and grade one paper; then I'd climb up the stairs to the second floor and grade another paper; and so on. When I got to the top floor, I'd start going down. Once I had traveled the whole library once, I had 10 papers graded and was allowed to take a break.

It was a very strange system, but it really worked for me; my grading kind of fell apart when I moved to a school that had a tiny library!

YourFireAnt said...

Try grading while standing. Changes your whole outlook.

FA

ppolarbear said...

And after burning all those calories, did you get to have cake?

Chip said...

you hate grading??? What kind of a professor are you? I thought professors treasured every utterance and written mark of every single one of their students? And now you tell me that grading is torture? I'm so disillusioned... :-)

Andrew Purvis said...

I am "in transition," having made a mid-year move (we arrived the night before mid-year's day). My academic employment consists of grading secondary papers online, and that ties my to my machine. I need to work out how to adapt your system to prevent my getting tempted by the internet.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on grading and beign stationary. I wish that I coudl grade while on a stationary bicylce. Help to avoid the professorial waist-spread as well.

listmaker said...

What a great idea. I always try to build some exercise into my day, whether it's parking at the far end of the parking lot or doing what I call library aerobics.

Shelly said...

OMG! That would mean the grading process took twice as long!

But movement: GOOD!

Kristen said...

Hey, killing two birds with one stone - and two birds that aren't typically killed with the same stone, too: blogging and exercise.

delagar said...

I'm grading midterms. I take a break after each exam. It's the only way I can get myself to start the next one!

Marie said...

Well done! I am THE WORST grader ever. My students bug me constantly about it. That stack of 170 tests looks like it's never getting smaller. Maybe aerobic exercise is the answer. And I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who works better in a coffee shop.