the other side of the coin

As I am faced once again with the semesterly task of grading the huge end-of-semester exams my students just took, I’m reminded of a few things. Some of these things even take me back to when I was a student, believe it or not…

As an English teacher

Every semester at school, there are at least 2 monthly quizzes that we administer to students. The repetition of grading these standardized exams is dangerous. I’ve made more errors than I would like to count while marking endless grammar sections and sentences that all begin to look the same after only 20 minutes. In general, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal for me, but it has – specifically because of how it affects my students.

As a student

I remember discovering unmarked errors on quizzes and tests papers in school. I also remember finding correct answers incorrectly marked as errors or vice-versa. The reaction, obviously depending on whether it was the former or the latter, was either disappointment or slight elation at the prospect of a higher score. However, as always in this case, the former situation required a little more bravery, honesty and honor on the student’s part to approach the teacher about the issue. Students finding themselves faced with the latter situation don’t hesitate to point out the error of their teacher’s ways.

As a teacher

There is a bit of self-respect, pride and authority that must be maintained for the sake of classroom security. Students discovering overlooked mistakes on their exam papers is not necessarily a moment of joy or education. In fact, I’ve found that it could rather be a moment of absolute horror. It’s one thing for your students to discover something like this, but, in the system I’m a part of,  once their well-educated English-speaking parents catch it it could all be over. There’s a lot at stake here. I’ve learned to play it cool and simply put more effort towards personal proof-reading, but this is a serious issue for a teacher in terms of both laziness and pride.

As a teacher (again)

I’ll never forget the moment a student came up to me in tears, pointing out an over-looked error in her test. It was in this moment when the whole ordeal became a rather human issue for me. Emotions of rather young human beings were at stake. I of course gave my student a hug and fixed appearances accordingly on her exam for pride’s sake. I literally made a mental note to make sure I was alert and awake next time I graded any kind of exam papers.

As a student

I remember waiting in anticipation for papers and tests to be returned. Some teachers were super quick and efficient. Others allowed for life’s distractions and took their time about the business. If my school didn’t give me deadlines, I would never get things graded.

And so here I am, a pile of student exams infront of me, almost completely graded. Naturally, due to festivities and events of Christmas, I’m falling a bit behind, but I’m still taking this process quite seriously. Because wether you’re a student or a teacher, there is a lot at stake.

There are two sides to every coin; and as far as this coin goes, I’ve seen both. And for that, I am thankful. 

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