It’s Finals Week at both Framingham State and Curry College, where I’ve been filling in for an instructor who went on medical leave several months ago. Finals Week is a notoriously busy time for students and instructors alike, but there’s always a strange sense of calm that washes over me after I teach my last class.
Once Finals Week arrives, I no longer have to juggle the distinct tasks of prepping classes, teaching classes, commenting on essay drafts, and grading papers. Once Finals Week arrives, I no longer have to multitask, concentrating all my attention on the single task of grading, grading, grading.
I used to collect fat folders of student writing at the end of the term, so I had actual paper-piles I could show as proof of how much work loomed. Nowadays, though, I have my students submit both their final exam essays and semester portfolios online, so instead of a weighty paper-pile, all I have is my slim laptop laden with downloaded papers.
Although in the old days there was a certain sense of accomplishment in moving each fat folder from my “to do” to “done” piles, I don’t miss the end-term ritual of schlepping bags full of papers from and then back to campus. My students submit their papers online, and I post my end-term comments and grades online, too. there’s something strangely satisfying about clicking “Submit” for another graded batch of student essays: each file representing so much work for the student to write, me to comment on, the student to revise, and me to grade at last.