Home > Uncategorized > Becoming “The Man” everyone wants to stick it to

Becoming “The Man” everyone wants to stick it to

Last Friday,  I finished grading the first batch of papers for my students (I teach first-year writing). The actual grading process wasn’t as terrible as it could’ve been: I already had experience of reading and evaluating papers from my time as a writing center tutor, and I even graded some short essays for Prof. Swift at BYU. Still, in both cases, I was just an assistant, a sideline referee of sorts. Now, the buck stops with me, whether I like it or not.

So it was a little nerve-wracking: how will students react? Will they be pleased…or devastated? As I handed out the papers at the end of class yesterday, I told them they were free to leave once they had their paper. BUT NOBODY LEFT! Instead, it just became inbearably silent as everyone looked over what I had written. So I panicked. I hurried and passed out the rest, packed up my bag, and was out the door before any accosting could begin.

In all, I was I probably was too lenient, especially for a first paper–the class average was about an 85. But still, I can’t help but think about those who scored lower than that number. Especially because if I was in their shoes, I’d be freaking out.

See, when I was an undergrad, I was obsessed with grades. Obsessed. I had to get an A. Not that I was fretting about how my transcript would look in the future, but getting above a certain GPA meant I would qualify for a scholarship, which would go a long way for Janelle and I, trying to work and pay for school. So I went to great lengths to make sure I got an A in every class (at least for the first few semesters). The problem is, I have a hard time shaking out of that mindset with my students. Not every student can get an A–and not every student deserves an A–but I can’t help but project my own undergraduate anxieties onto their situation.

So, basically, I need to take a deep breath and grow a thicker skin. I try to remind myself that I’m not doing them any favors if I inflate their grades and that my job is to help them improve their writing by providing frank evaluation. Still, I feel that I’ve become my undergraduate-self’s worst enemy.

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