Monday, January 30, 2012

the paper grading lesson

Grading papers is often no more than assessing whether learning objectives were met or not for each and every student.  It can be long, tiring, and boring at times. 

  I ventured to grade 150 personal narratives that were all 3 pages in length.  Do the math.  That is a lot of behind the scenes time for one assignment.  By the time I got through 1st period I realized that this grading venture would be different.

The assignment was to write a personal narrative explaining a lesson learned or a way you changed through an event in your life. 

This week I was the student and not the teacher.

The hours I have spent grading these papers have left me with admiration, respect, and questions for my students. 

From this assignment I have learned the following:

  • Navajo families roll their newborn babies in snow during the first winter storm.  The act will devleop bravery and courage in the young baby that will last a lifetime.
  • The death of a young baseball player in Winslow has affected all of his classmates.  They have matured greatly and have not forgotten him one bit.  The accident happened almost a year ago, and his close friends in my classes still write about how it affects them.
  • Divorce has to be one of the most ugly things a child can go through.  Hearing the point of view from a child has been tear jerking and downright difficult. 
  • Sheep herding in the Navajo tradition is a meaningful way to learn respect for elders and experience the true meaning of hard work. 
  • Sports are a sure-fire way for young people to find themselves.
  • The birth of a sibling has surely affected my students.  Some said it was positive and others have admitted to having a hard time adjusting.
  • Adoption has saved the life of one of my students.  I literally cried when I read this paper.
  • Foster care has rescued several of my student swho went through physical abuse from parents, death of parents, and abadonment. 
  • Jail time has taught several of my students a permanent lesson about breaking rules.  I admit it caught me off guard to read about drug, robbery, and alcohol abuse coming from the mouths of a few 14-year olds. 
I mention all of this only because it reminded me that I am in a unique position to mentor, support, teach, and lead these students.  Many students opened up in a way that I wasn't expecting.  I feel that it is as much my job to mentor and lift up as it is to teach writing, grammar, and vocabulary.  I am also reminded that the sometimes gloomy job of grading papers needs to be carried out with the utmost care.  After all, I may play some small part to help them.  I can only hope. 

1 comment:

Whitney said...

Wow. What a powerful experience as a teacher. Your kids are lucky to have you and vice versa. PS Love your blog heading. Way cool.