I don’t understand people. Especially when you think you have someone relatively figured out, they appear stable, and then they do something completely out of the blue that makes no sense, essentially ruining themselves in the process.

As I am tabulating final grades, I have several students who have been diligently coming to class, doing all of their work, earning good grades, did well on the final, but have not submitted their final papers. Papers were due last week, and depending on the class they are worth 20-25 percent of the final grade. I even sent out a mass email last night to all of my students stating that I will give them until Sunday to turn in any late work for partial credit.

Why would someone expend this much energy all semester, only to totally drop everything at the end and receive a C in a class where they had an A in the week before?

I have some students that have been on and off all semester, turning in some things but not others, and then at the end they came through and managed to pass the course. None of that was terribly shocking.

But a couple of the students I am referring to are exceedingly bright, write very well, understand the concepts, and as I have to enter a C on their final grade it makes me cringe. Which is basically why I emailed everyone giving them until Sunday night to submit any late work. I am really hoping they take this very last chance to produce something grade worthy.

I knew grading would be stressful (and so far has been my least favorite part of teaching), but no one warned me it would be emotionally draining as well.


  1. Emotional collapse? The holidays have a way of bringing those on. We survive, until/unless we don’t. You can only do what you can do–sitting in judgment can be very difficult, but some of them seem hell-bent on forcing you to do it, and their reasons seem at once as varied as snowflakes seen up close, and as similar as snowflakes seen from a distance.

  2. I don’t know if I would go as far as to call it “emotional collapse,” but it does take a toll on me, especially when the seemingly good students – the bright ones who ask questions, show up to office hours, and email on a regular basis – arbitrarily decide to stop doing their work, forcing me to grade them down significantly. After spending fifteen weeks with them I can’t help but care. The worst part is, I know they can do it, and their utter refusal is maddening.

  3. *That* is entirely possible… and unfortunately I had a dose of that after Wednesday night’s final, with my 17 hour work day becoming reminiscent of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night…

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