Ultimate Guide to Grading Papers: A 12-Step Program For Teachers

Guide to Grading Papers Tina Fey "Let's do this"

Step 1: Admit that the wave of papers has arrived.

Stack of papers gif "227 files were dropped on my desk

You’ve taught and re-taught, planned the due date carefully and given formative feedback. Now that you’re staring at a neat stack of papers or list of electronic submissions, you accept that you are outnumbered.

Step 2: Tell yourself that you have all the time in the world to get this set of papers graded.

Ross from Friends "Unag"

 **Unless grades are due…if this is the case, skip to step #10 with increased urgency and coffee.**

Step 3: Avoid grading for the next 24 hours, at least.

Rational Decision-maker and instant gratification monkey inside a brain animation

No, make that at least 48 hours. And while you are in avoidance mode, you might as well clean the floor, organize your closets, go grocery shopping, and binge-watch Stranger Things while eating pizza with extra pizza on top. Repeat this step as necessary at any point during the 12-step grading process.

Step 4: Fearlessly take inventory of the rubric, student submissions, and work quality.

Tina Fey "Let's do this"

Make a to-do list with multi-colored pens. Copy rubrics and arrange in neat piles on your desk. Use binder clips with abandon.

Step 5: Calculate the number of minutes and hours it will take you to finish grading if you start this very moment and continue without interruption until completion.

Zach Galifianakis doing Math

Think of witty comebacks and/or excuses for the students who will ask if their papers are graded yet. These excuses will range from practical to absurd. They will make you feel slightly better about the number of hours you will soon sacrifice.

Step 6: Prepare for grading.

Morpheus in the Matrix ready to fight

Turn off your phone. Set a timer, if you have to. Bring on the grading! You feel like a ninja Jedi warrior superhero after grading one student’s paper. Bribe yourself with a reward for finishing four more. Take a break.

Step 7: Ask philosophical questions about grading.

Ross gives Grammar lesson to Rachel in Friends

Are my students learning? What does a grade represent, anyway? Why, for the love of paperclips, can’t some students seem to proofread their work? Make a mental note to re-teach students about all the grammar.

Step 8: Google “grading hacks”

Michael Scott "Only thing that could make this day better is ice cream

Make a quick note about trends you’re noticing. Google “grading hacks” hoping to find a magical solution. Resolve to try color-coding, video comments, student-led grading conferences next time.

Step 9: Have a panic attack.

Man having a panic attack

Have a panic attack when technology fails or when you can’t find a stack of the papers and/or rubrics you so carefully organized in step number four.

Step 10: Try a grading “power hour” and finish one class set.

Farrell Williams dancing in school

Give stickers to students who did well on this assessment. Develop a sticker hierarchy, giving your favorite designs or characters to the best papers.

Step 11: Let the day-to-day demands of teaching take over.

Throwing papers in the air

Lesson plans, time with students, parent phone calls, emails, goals and data collection, PLC collaboration…the list goes on, and grading will have to wait.

Step 12: Just. Get. It. Done.

"Hello from the other side" Adele

Feel a sense of triumph and accomplishment that your non-teacher friends and/or significant other can never fully understand.

Did you find this useful? Head over to our ultimate guide created by experts on how to do your lesson plans like a boss!

Guide to Grading Papers , Pinterest Cover

author image_blankThis article was written by Lindsay Ann. Lindsay, creator of Lindsay Ann Learning, loves to design and share writing, reading, and digital ELA teaching essentials with educators in search of rigorous, creative, practical resources for their classrooms. Join her for teaching tips, real-life stories, and much more on her blog, or follow her on Twitter.

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