Last Thursday I received about 133 papers from students in my three classes. Over the four days since I’ve read and graded all of them. I’ve graded at my desks at BU and home, on four different sofas in two houses, at two kitchen tables, and in the car going to and from Maine. (I was not driving.) I’ve graded early in the morning and late at night. I’ve tried to be consistent. After I read the first 30 or so papers in the largest group I realized I needed to be more flexible, so I graded the final 80 papers accordingly and went back and up-graded the first 30. My goal has been to return these papers today, which kept me on task and lowered the priority of everything else such as responding to emails, reading the paper, writing recommendation letters, and sending birthday greetings. Now I get to catch up although there’s another 20-30 papers coming in today. Grading is the chore we like least but rewarding, too, and not just because I make two big checks on my to do list. I learn a great deal about my students through grading these papers, about how they think, what they connect with, and what they miss. It’s humbling to realize that matters I thought I made clear remain murky and deeply satisfying to see students make connections between disparate concepts.
All of which is an indirect way of saying if my communications are tardy I have a good excuse and I’ll make it up. Soon. Right after I finish the next group of papers.