Got up early to grade…

Got up early to grade this morning (at 4 a.m., but I went to bed at 8, so it's not as bad as it sounds), and have worked through my fiction students' fairy tales so far. I have quite a mass of lit papers to go, and am not sure I can finish them before class -- ah well. If they have to wait 'til Tuesday, it's not the end of the world.

Teaching's still going pretty well this semester -- I'd put it in the B+ / A- range, which is pretty good for me. I was thinking about this the other day while walking home from class, how a letter grade scale actually works pretty well for my lit. teaching. It'd look something like this:

  • A range: Totally prepared, know the material backwards and forwards, can lecture animatedly and/or lead an engaging discussion, have devised clever methods to keep students engaged all through class in active learning, plus cool homework afterwards

  • B range: Don't know the material quite as well (often true the first time I teach a course), but sufficiently for course purposes, have read plenty of supplemental material (history, criticism, etc.) to bolster conversation, can lecture coherently and lead a class discussion without stumbling

  • C range: Underprepared on material -- have read primary sources, but haven't made up lecture notes, or done supplemental reading to give me coherent structure for class discussion or clear goals for what I want them to get out of the text -- if this pattern persists throughout the course, leads to a frustratingly random course for the students, and a sneaking suspicion that the professor doesn't quite know what she's doing

  • D/F range: Haven't actually finished the reading one is supposed to be teaching, totally flail in class, some if not all of the students are aware of your incompetence and even openly contemptuous of it, misery all around for everyone

I don't think I've ever been a D/F teacher, thank god (although I've sadly had one or two in that realm), and it's been a while since I was a C teacher. That was mostly an issue at the start of my teaching career, when I didn't realize just how much I needed to prepare in order to have a good class. These days, I mostly float between B and A, generally depending on how much time I have to devote to the class (and whether I've taught it before). I'm actually very pleased with this semester, because even though I have two new preps, I think I've pretty much held to an A- level so far, with even an occasional A class here or there. Yay, me!

But now I have to go back to my grading. Sigh. Thankfully, 'grading cheerfully' isn't anywhere on my list of what it takes to be a good teacher.

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