Judgement Day

25 Mar

angry teacher

The part of my job that I find myself resisting the most is grading.  I have to judge the writing of others and assign a numeric value to this judgement.  Truth is, I pretty much know the grade within a few focused minutes, intuitively, and then I have to spend 10 or 20 more minutes figuring out how I know this and how I can be helpful with my comments.

I never see the online students face to face, and I found myself down right ruthless with my grading there.  I expected many students to drop after the first essay, but  guess what?  They held on tighter and worked harder for my approval.  Ah ha!  They responded to tough judgement by trying harder, while my face to face classes know I am open-faced accepting of them, and they flounder and disappear, often.  Interesting.

All sorts of people inhabit seats in a community college:

I had two students one semester who were in different sections, but so similar.  Neither of them ever turned in a single piece of writing to me.  We often discussed what they were going to write, but not one assignment came in.  But they were delightful to have in class.   They often found small portions of the whole lesson fascinating and  got the discussion off on a tangent.  They were pleasant, non-stressed and engaged with the material, though tangentially, and attended every day.

I have others who profess desperation to pass but never show up.  I don’t have an opinion about any of them.  When they show up at my podium, i love to look in their eyes.  I take away their guilt.  Guilt doesn’t help.   I offer the same to passing and failing;  my attention.

The numbers judge, but not me, and the numbers are actually out of my control.  The grading is a separate process far removed from the real work that is taking place between souls who are getting together, writing words, talking about ideas, joking, researching, pulling our hair out…BEing in space together for a time.

I used to think it was part of my job to judge.  That was a stressful and unnatural role for me. Judging others is a powerful force in our construct…another thing sold that is totally unnecessary. Students often come in with hands on their hips stances about all sorts of things, and I relish when I uncover this same positioning in myself so I can clear it on out!

Every path has value; every life is an expression of the divine; the more I come to life in this way, the more loveliness I see in every person and in every moment.

And yes, I am writing this right now instead of grading papers; not judging myself on that either 🙂

16 Responses to “Judgement Day”

  1. Creative Sol Vibrations March 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm #


  2. stockdalewolfe March 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Important message on judging and love Bob M.!

  3. jonathanhilton March 25, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    I always hated grading papers. One of the many reasons I no longer teach! You seem like a dedicated and wonderful teacher. Keep up the good work. 🙂 No judgments from me, I would almost rather do anything rather than correct papers. Blog writing is fun. That gets my vote every single time. 🙂

    • marga t. March 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Here I am again, avoiding my work – blogging is more fun! Cool you have this experience, too. Their fresh faces await my feedback and I want to go to the park to visit my favorite tree 🙂

      • jonathanhilton March 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

        Yes, I recall well the pressure to give some valuable feedback. In the broad scheme of things I would consider visiting your favorite tree as a good decision. Your tree will never be disappointed or ignore your instructions. You are at a college so the parental problem isn’t there. But in high school, you have to be able to justify the grade to the students and the parents. I will take my favorite tree every time over that!! Great post though! 🙂

      • marga t. March 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

        Took your advice, hope you’re not wrong 😛 The tree says hello 🙂

      • JJBollOX April 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

        The best grading ever, “I would take your essay seriously however it is a lovely day today and I’m going to the park. Maybe I’ll see you there”. 🙂

      • marga t. April 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

        Perfect! Of course, parks and trees first. Waved to you on the trail 🙂

  4. andelieya 安德洌雅 (official) March 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    It takes a lot of inner work to truly understand that “Every path has value; every life is an expression of the divine” and, thus, to become accepting of others as they are. It’s the prerequisite for developing true compassion.

    • marga t. March 26, 2013 at 7:47 am #

      Took a long break from teaching to be with my children and when I came back, the whole interaction with students was different – so funny how compassion isn’t a “doing” but is just there. Thank you for engaging with me on this!

  5. bert0001 March 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Some interesting insights. I need to reread this post a couple of times. I’ve never been an online teacher …

    • marga t. March 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

      What do you teach, Bert?
      Online is taking me some time to get used to…Our school is beginning to go that direction more and more. Close Human interaction accounts for much, I think. We feel each other’s energy in a way the computer world can’t match, or maybe I haven’t figured it out yet.

      • bert0001 March 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

        Teaching IT courses in Networking annd Sysadmin Linux and WinServer. I think there is a large audience for IT courses online. Perhaps I should go that way, but it looks a little complicated to setup videoconferencing with more than one person at the same time.
        Online with videoconferencing there is no continuous feedback …
        When it becomes a system of turning in work and returning it quoted and commented there is indeed no more contact.

  6. viewpacific April 1, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    I was a college professor in a “past life” and had many similar experiences. It helped me to develop my sort of symphonic approach – appreciating each student with their own part to play and contribution. Reading what you’ve shared about online students, I can imagine that the dynamics between the students might be lost (or at least shifted), such as those students who chime in yet don’t produce papers.
    On the other hand, maybe some students are so tech-savvy that they can reveal more of themselves and build collaboration beyond what might happen in the best in-person group. Do you think that’s possible?

    • marga t. April 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Cool you shared the teaching path, at some point. I do think that creating an engaging and connecting classroom over the computer is possible; our department head has done so, though, he was only teaching one class and gave it so much time and attention! Rebuilding the courses will take time. i can see how to do it…but bit by bit for now. Thanks for reading. My eyes keep going to “symphonic” in your post- pondering that.

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