rethinking grading

I'd really thought I could get through this set of papers without blogging about them, without complaining about them. After all, I was so virtuous, I even graded some of them on Friday night. And the assignment I'm grading is a potentially interesting one that allows for creative or original responses on the part of the students. So they're not as dreary to read as some more traditional critical essays. (Also harder to plagiarise.)

But then I just didn't get much further with the grading over the weekend. It is the one thing that I truly seem to procrastinate on -- much worse than on anything else in my life. Even when it's not so painful, it's really hard to make myself sit down to do it. Especially since I was trying to grade at home -- I'd been at the office so much that I wanted to be at home with the dogs, all cozy on the couch. Which was great, but it also set me up to be distracted and interrupted.

So once I wrap up here at the office, I'm off to the cafe, where it will be warmer than my house (I hope), and where there will be anxious kids studying for the LSAT and med students doing whatever they do with flash cards. My best studying-related memories from college are all about being in places where other people are also working -- the undergraduate library's armchairs, the heavily varnished tables in the magazine room, the late-night coffees at the divey Italian place. In grad school, my best friend would come over to study -- we'd work for a few hours, breaking now and then for coffee or a snack. It was companionable but not overly distracting. I think that's the key. Working in total isolation can make me feel really put upon -- at least when it's a task I'm not really engaged with anyway.

I need to figure out a way to reframe grading as intellectual work. Because I think that's the problem -- it feels more like service, or adminstration, or other energy draining aspects of the job.

Or, maybe I can teach my dogs to grade papers for me...