You really shouldn’t assign homework that you won’t grade. Our school policy is to assign a butt-ton of homework.
Most times I try to selectively grade in class OR with the homework (especially, sad to say it, drills-turned-busywork) I take home, I toss it. I seriously kill a mini-tree once a month. Global warming? My fault.
Anyway, I also have a problem getting into the school year. The first few weeks of school, I have a very difficult time grading. Mainly because it’s calibration and I feel that all the diagnostics don’t help too much since kids are rusty too.
I do assign mini-bios etc. And…. somehow, they got lost in a big pile… and my kids worked hard on them.. and I’m just reading them now and feeling so overwhelmed with what my students wanted to share with me… and looking back, THEY assumed I’d read this. So, the fact that I don’t.. implicitly acknowledge hardships at home, the fact that I blithely chatter on about theoretical family situations, ack, ack. Must stop ruminating, it’s making me squirm.
Let me explain. Here’s an excerpt from one of the mini-autobiographies I had my students write. An excerpt from a gal I like to think of as Mama Duck because she’s sort of like the class mom.
“XXX was born in…. she moved…. blah blah.
Later on those years, her father left and she was left alone with her mother. AS time passed, her mother payed less attention to her, and more attention to her stepdad. In a blink of an eye, they had a child. It was clear to X that her mother no longer loved her, since a better offer came along. As a result, her mother had a later child.
X was basically miserable, she felt unloved, not cared for. Her mother always made her take care of her stepsisters as if SHE was the mother.
To add on, X’s father died in the year of. And she simply felt as if the world were to collapse on her. Yet she kept that fake smile on her face and moved on.”
WHAT THE WHAT? Mama Duck wrote this to me in August. I’m reading this 2 months later. All the while, I make small talk with her, chatting about her sisters, telling her how impressed I am at her maturity. I get a bit frustrated at times when she turns in sloppy work. Etc. And I understand, “no excuses.” But at the same point, what kind of sadistic teacher tells her student who resents being treated like the second mother, “You’re like their second mom, huh?” In isolation, it’s a harmless comment, but in the context of the fact that she assumes I’ve read her bio AND THAT i’m acting like it’s all okay!? I mean maybe she doesn’t articulate it so clearly in her mind, but I’m sure a weird feeling might be involved.
Another one talked about how she was born, how her family felt love for the little girl. Yet as she grew up “she felt lonely, and had no one to play with, since her cousin died when she was only one year old.” Then about her little brother and then a dog she had for two years but then had to give away because of her asthma.
It’s not tragic, but it’s a real problem. I asked them to pick 3 key moments of their lives to share with me, and if these are the three, then these are real deals to my students. And as an adult, I feel that I’m sending the message that I just don’t care.
My kids DO seem to pour out more and more in their writing. And yet, I barely make time to read it.
Seriously, today I felt like I had a big “Worst Teacher of the Year” cloud hanging over me.