Grading as Purgatory

Now at the end of my first semester of full-time teaching, I find myself overwhelmed by grading. At a loss for other language, I resort to the archaic and theological.

Grading is my personal purgatory. It is not hell; this is no taste of the unmitigated wrath of God, nor is it an experience of the absence of God’s presence. It is a purifying fire, a place in which I find my patience, compassion, and perseverance tested and honed.

Grading is a character-building experience; but that benefit is not self-evident in the thick of duty’s throes, where there is no light, only tunnel. Hope is the evidence of things unseen and this is a test of hope, for I do not see the end of this ever-growing pile.

Some of what is in this pile I know I deserve. I find evidence of my shortcomings as an educator at every turn: vague explanations on my part resulting in vague papers on the part of my students, pitfalls of which I have failed to warn them, missed opportunities at greatness toward which I did not charge them.

I am learning to love the pain of our growing, the strain of our struggle toward perfection together.

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