Controlling the Paper Beast
Dear First-Year Teacher,
Here’s a little hint that will save your sanity: You don’t have to grade all the papers that cross your desk—you don’t even have to look at many of them!
My first year in the classroom I nearly drowned in students’ papers—until I re-discovered one of humankind’s most marvelous inventions: the circular file (also known as the wastebasket or trashcan). After I started shoveling mountains of inconsequential paperwork into the trash (recycling would have been even better), I breathed a sigh of relief—and you can too. Just follow these three simple rules for controlling the Paper Beast:
Grade the most important papers—the quizzes, the tests, the essays. Record the grades, and hand the papers back to the students as soon as possible.
Glance at homework. If you assign ten problems, look at only two of them to see if the students are getting the concept or if you need to re-teach.
Get rid of the stuff that doesn’t matter—bellwork, for example, or the sheet of paper on which a loquacious student has been compelled to write one hundred times, “I will not talk in class without permission.”
Ruthlessly divest yourself of excess paper and your reward will be a clear (or nearly clear) desktop and an uncluttered mind—two requisites for keeping your sanity in the classroom.
Yours for controlling the Paper Beast,
Magical Mystical Teacher