MAT Blog

4 Careers Requiring a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 15, 2014 11:03:00 AM

Master of Arts in Teaching Online DegreeEducators choose to pursue a graduate degree for a variety of reasons. Some pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree because they value the professional development and camaraderie they build with likeminded peers and professors in the program; others continue their education because it is a long-term financial investment.

Just as important to educators, though, is the fact that Masters of Art in Teaching Online Degrees often lead to even more satisfaction, more interesting work, more responsibility, and career possibilities that extend beyond the classroom.

If you are interested in continuing your career in education, there are a variety of vocations that will be available to you if you have successfully completed a graduate degree.

Community Colleges Hire Professors Who Have Successfully Completed Their Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree
While most four-year colleges and universities require professors to have a Ph.D., community colleges only require professors to have a master’s degree.

Educational Consultants and Curriculum Developers Must Have a
Masters of Art in Teaching Online Degree
If you are interested in extending your career beyond the classroom, you should know that many online schools, curriculum developers, and educational consulting companies hire teachers with a master’s degree.

Universities Often Hire Those Who Have Successfully Completed Their Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree
Your teaching experience, coupled with a master’s degree, ensure that you are qualified and well-equipped for many positions in colleges and universities. These positions may include support services, registration and admissions, new student recruitment, campus career centers, and international programs offices.

Textbook Companies Often Hire Those Who Have Successfully Completed Their Graduate Degree
Textbook companies and a variety of non-profit educational organizations that produce education content often require their employees to have a master’s degree. Why? Because they rely on their educators’ expertise, experience, and ability to research as they develop educational content.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level, check out Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching online degree!

 

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Am I Eligible for Marygrove’s Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree?

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 12, 2014 1:20:00 PM

online_masters_degree_programs_in_mathematicsTake a moment and imagine the trajectory of your teaching career. Where do you see yourself? Is your place in the classroom? Perhaps you have aspirations to teach at the college or university level. Maybe you have ambitions that reach beyond the classroom and you see yourself as a curriculum specialist, a developer, or a consultant for an educational non-profit organization.

Whatever you aspire to do, whoever you aspire to become, Marygrove’s Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program can help you get there.

Unlike many other institutions which offer Masters of Art in Teaching Online Degrees, Marygrove College’s admissions process is easy and straightforward. To find out if you are eligible to pursue our program, answer the following questions:

Do you have what it takes to pursue a Master in the Art of Teaching Degree at Marygrove?

  • Are you a certified teacher with a current teaching certificate? If not, do you currently teach at a private institution?
  • Are you currently teaching full time? If not, do you have access to a classroom so that you can complete the assignments you will receive in our Masters of Art in Teaching Online program?
  • Do you have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher? If not, you can still meet our requirements by submitting two letters of recommendation.
  • Can you submit official transcripts from your undergraduate college or university?
  • Do you have a computer and Internet access?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are eligible to apply for our Master of Arts in Teaching Online program!

To apply to our program, click here or on the image below.

masters_degree_programs_in_mathematics

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Our Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program and Why Graduates Continue to Choose Marygrove College

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 12, 2014 10:37:00 AM

Master of Arts in Teaching Online ProgramIf you Google “Master of Arts in Teaching Online programs,” you’ll find that there are plenty of colleges and universities to choose from.

Yet out of all the institutions offering Master in the Art of Teaching degrees, Marygrove College continues to distinguish itself.

So why have over 28,000 master teachers earned degrees from our Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program since 1990?

We have been leaders in teacher education since 1905
We are proud of the fact that Marygrove was one of the first colleges to offer the convenience and flexibility of a Masters of Art in Teaching Online degree; we’re also proud to say that we were at forefront of the online education movement that began in the 1990s.

But we’re also proud of the fact that that our institution has a rich history and a reputation that began over a hundred years ago, right here in the city of Detroit.

At Marygrove College, we do not ask our students to choose convenience over reputation.

We do not require applicants to take the GRE test
The GRE is a standardized test taken by most students who are applying for admission (or a fellowship) to study at the graduate level. It’s only offered three times a year, it takes several hours to complete, requires extensive preparation time, is stress-inducing for most students, and costs test takers $160!

Taking all of that into consideration, we’re fairly certain that you’ll be happy to know that Marygrove’s Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program does not require applicants to take the GRE test!

We do not require graduates to write a master’s thesis
Writing a thesis is an easy task for some (a few is probably more accurate). These students have known what they wanted to study from the time they entered graduate school, and perhaps even before, but for the majority of students, selecting and then writing a master’s thesis is one of the most intimidating and challenging tasks they face in their MAT degree.  

So what’s the good news? Unlike most Master of Arts in Teaching Online Programs, Marygrove’s does not require graduates to write a master’s thesis.

In lieu of the master’s thesis, students will complete a Capstone Project which documents their growth throughout the program. The Capstone Project includes entries such as: a video and analysis of the student's teaching, an action research project, and a final compilation of assignments from the courses; samples of your students' work completed in your classroom; and reflection/journal entries.

Our reputation speaks for itself
We could tell you lots more about our Master of Arts in Teaching Online program, but we think it might be more beneficial for you to hear—and see—what our graduates have to say about our program.

Online Masters in Mathematics Education

To learn more about our Master in the Art of Teaching online program, click here.

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Marygrove’s Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 11, 2014 3:10:00 PM

online_masters_in_mathematics_education_onlineThere is no shortage of Master of Arts in Teaching Online Programs. So why do students continue to choose Marygrove College? What distinguishes our program from the others? And why have over 28,000 students graduated from our Master in the Art of Teaching degree program since 1990?

Our classes are taught by teaching faculty, not graduate students or teaching assistants
There are a couple things we’d like to point out about our professors: First, our classes are taught by teaching faculty, not teaching assistants or graduate students. Second, our Masters of Art in Teaching Online instructors choose to teach at our college not so they can publish, lecture, or research (although many do), but because they are passionate about teaching.

While many of our instructors are researchers and published scholars who are dedicated to advancing their field of study, their priority, first and foremost, will always be you.

Our program is designed around you
Our instructors understand the demands that are placed on teachers and working adults just like you. They understand the challenges students face while trying to balance relationships, parenthood, a career, and their Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program at the same time.

That’s why our program is entirely online. Unlike many “online” graduate programs, ours does not require face-to-face meetings or on-campus conferences. As a result, you can live in any time zone, in any part of the country or world, and still complete your master’s degree. 

We allow students to learn at their own pace
At Marygrove, we believe that every student is unique. Some students prefer to move through our program quickly and complete their course of study in less than two years. Others need more time or require breaks in study. At Marygrove, you have up to six years to complete the program.

Marygrove’s Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program is affordable
We pride ourselves on being completely transparent about the cost of our program. You can expect to pay roughly $13,200 in tuition for our 30-credit program. That’s $440 per credit hour, which, by comparison is very reasonable for an advanced degree. We also have convenient payment plan options and offer a five percent group discount for applying with at least four other students!

We do not require students to submit letters of recommendation
Most graduate programs require applicants to submit several letters of recommendation along with their application. This can be challenging for applicants who haven’t seen former undergraduate professors in years, maybe even decades!

We don’t like to place unnecessary obstacles in front of those who apply to our online masters in mathematics education program. That’s why we do not require applicants to submit letters of recommendation as long as they have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.

To learn more about our Master in the Art of Teaching Program, click here.

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

5 More Reasons to Pursue Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 5, 2014 3:01:00 PM

Master of Arts in Teaching OnlineIn a recent blog post, we shared five good reasons for teachers to pursue a Masters of Art in Teaching Online. If, after reading that post, you’re still on the fence about it, read on; we’ve got five more good reasons to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree.

You’ve already learned how to learn

Much of the undergraduate experience is spent adjusting to the rigors and demands of the classroom and professors. This can be both challenging and stressful for undergraduate students.

Academically, the graduate experience is very different than the undergraduate experience. As a graduate student, you’ve already learned how to learn. Not only that, you’ve built a sturdy foundation of knowledge and experience that make adjusting to our Masters of Art in Teaching Online program much easier, exciting, and pleasant.

Classes are light on tests and quizzes and heavy on meaningful discussion

While many professors enjoy teaching undergraduates, they are often frustrated by their students’ lack of engagement, commitment, and preparedness. As a result, undergraduate classes are often heavy on tests, quizzes, rules and regulations, and light on dynamic and meaningful discussion between students and the instructor.

As a student in our Master of Arts in Teaching Online Program, your experience will be quite the opposite. There are absolutely no tests in any of the MAT courses. Although some of our instructors give quizzes, these are meant to be a source of information so that they can act in a supportive way to ensure that you understand the content and can put it into practice.

In our Masters of Art in Teaching Online program, your time will be spent collaborating with your peers, engaging in group discussions, listening to lectures and discussing them with your peers on our online message board, and reflecting, in writing, on your own practices in the classroom.

You will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from other teachers

Camaraderie is another good reason to pursue an Masters of Art in Teaching Online. Our schools may be full of people, yet the demands of the profession often cause teachers—both new and veteran teachers alike—to feel isolated.In our program you will work closely with teachers and professors, folks who understand the challenges of the profession and what it means to be an educator.

A graduate degree often leads to more choices and a more satisfying career

We have yet to meet a teacher who got into the profession because of the health benefits, the pay, or because he or she has holidays and summers “off.”

Teachers want more than a job; they want a satisfying and intellectually stimulating career. A bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate qualify you to teach, no one is disputing that. But a MAT degree can lead to even more satisfaction, more interesting work, more responsibility, and career possibilities that extend beyond the classroom.

A graduate degree is a financial investment

In general, teachers with a graduate degree earn more money than those with an undergraduate degree alone. According to a September 2013 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduates of bachelor's degree programs in elementary education earned an average starting salary of $39,000. In comparison, graduates of master's degree programs in elementary education earned an average starting salary of $48,600.

We’ve been saying it since 1905 and we’re still saying it: You can earn a Masters of Art in Teaching Online—and we’re here to ensure that you do. We understand the needs of working teachers and parents; that’s why we’ve custom-tailored our MAT program to fit your schedule and your needs.

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

5 Things Every Master Reading Teacher Should Know

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 4, 2014 2:15:00 PM

master_reading_teacher

A master reading teacher knows that books come in all shapes and sizes

Many of us are attached to an antiquated idea about what “real” books look and read like. Master teachers, however, know that books come in all shapes and sizes. Some books are long, some are short, some are printed on glossy paper, some may have more pictures than text; heck, some books may not even have complete sentences in them.  

Call us crazy, but we would argue that “real” books can be anything from old road maps and glossy sales catalogues to newspapers, blogs, comic books, picture books, atlases, and cookbooks.

Like it or not, if we want to nurture a love of reading in our students, we must acknowledge that all books—no matter the shape and size—are legitimate forms of reading.

A master reading teacher knows that the length of a text is unimportant

This next point is really an extension of the previous one. Often we make the mistake of pushing struggling readers to read long, text-heavy books that only overwhelm them.

A master reading teaching knows that books can still be deep without being long. Take Ezra Pound’s poem, “In a Station of the Metro.” It may be two lines, but it might as well be a novel. Dissect it. Play with it. Put it back together. Rinse and repeat.

A master reading teacher knows the importance of silent reading time

Most of us would agree that silent and sustained reading time is a critical piece of the reading instruction puzzle. Finding time for silent reading may seem challenging, but take a closer look at how you are using your time. You may be surprised by how much of the day is taken up by interruptions—you know, special deliveries, messages, forgotten lunches, notes, or quick questions from other teachers.

Train your students to always have a book out on their desk. When an interruption occurs, students should immediately begin reading.

A master teacher knows what not to say to struggling readers

We certainly have good intentions when we stop our struggling readers mid-sentence and have them repeat mispronounced words, but when we do this, we are actually doing more harm than good.

A master reading teacher knows not only what to say to struggling readers, but just as important, what not to say.

As you work with your struggling readers, you may want to avoid saying the following:

  • “Stop. Reread that line”: If the error does not interfere with the meaning, let the mistake go and come back to it later.
  • “Speed up” or “slow down!”: Instead, model appropriate pacing.
  • “You know this word; you just read it with me earlier!”: No one intentionally makes mistakes. If the child knew the word he or she would have read it.

A master teacher uses reading exercises that mimic real-world reading practices

Have you ever had to read a scripture or poem at a wedding ceremony? If you have, chances are that you asked to review the piece before you got in front of a crowd and read it aloud. Why? Because you didn’t want to bungle it up by mispronouncing words or making silly mistakes!

Whether it be on the train, on a plane, in an airport, at a funeral, or in a coffee shop, most real-world reading happens silently. Like us, our students appreciate the opportunity to silently read a text before reading it aloud in front of their peers.

You may also be interested in one of our most popular reading resources for teachers, an infographic called Click and Clunk. It's a simple reading strategy that will teach your students to monitor and take charge of their own understanding.

Tags: Master Reading Teacher

A Quick Guide to Marygrove’s Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 3, 2014 4:17:00 PM

Masters of Art in Teaching OnlineAlthough Marygrove College’s Masters of Art in Teaching Online has been around for more than two decades, many students still have questions about how an online graduate program works and, more specifically, how an online program compares to the experience of being in a traditional, on-campus graduate program.

If you are considering pursuing your Master of Arts in Teaching Online, you may find the following program outline helpful. In it, we’ll give you a better sense of what our program is all about, how it works, and what you can expect from your experience in our Masters of Art in Teaching Online program.

Logging on
After you apply and are accepted into our Master of Arts in Teaching Online, you’ll be assigned a username and password. After that, you’ll be able to log on to Blackboard, a virtual desk where every class and all of your course content is clearly organized.

Class Discussions
As in the traditional classroom, you’ll also engage in classroom discussions in our masters program. The only difference is that you’ll use a discussion board platform inside Blackboard to share your ideas.

We find that this model not only mimics the traditional classroom dynamic, but is in fact superior to it in that instructorsinstructors and students exchange ideas at their leisure and pace—which means that thinking and speaking is less impulsive and more reflective. Additionally, many students find that a discussion board helps ensure that they are not lost in the discussion or afraid to share their ideas.

Group Work
Each module includes at least one group collaboration. Since your presentations, reflections and lesson plans are all uploaded to Blackboard, you will have the advantage of being able to review and critique your peers’ work.

Masters of Art in Teaching OnlineReadings & Videos
When you log on to Blackboard, you’ll find a course calendar that offers a detailed outline of every week from the beginning of the semester until the end. This means you’ll always know which chapters to read, which videos to watch and where to find them since all you have to do is follow the links your mentor has provided.

Our students, most of whom are working teachers, find this to be advantageous for several reasons:

  • First, you’ll never have to worry about misplacing your syllabus or course schedule.
  • Second, you can work at your own pace, or even work ahead if you are so inclined. Need to go out of town for the week? Not a problem. In fact, you don’t even have to tell anyone. Take your laptop with you—or better yet, get your work done the week before your vacation and leave your laptop at home.

Lecture
Like most classrooms, we supplement our activities with lectures—but unlike the traditional classroom, these lectures are delivered through video. Like all of the videos you’ll be watching, the lecture videos are asynchronous, which means that you can watch (and re-watch) them whenever and wherever you are. An added bonus is that each lecture is delivered by a different mentor, so our teachers are constantly exposed to a wide variety of perspectives from experts in the field.

Learning Experiences
It is important to us that our teachers are exposed to a variety of pedagogical theories, but also that we give them the hands-on experiences that allow them to put theory into practice. In our Masters of Art in Teaching Online program, you’ll never learn something you can’t use in your own classroom!

Assignments
In your courses, you’ll typically encounter three kinds of assignments:

  • Collaboration: Group work
  • Application: Learning experiences
  • Reflection: Although reflection is necessary for professional growth and development, we know that most teachers are not given the necessary time and space to reflect on their practices. That’s why we’ve build reflective assignments directly into the coursework.

Feedback
Not only are students given a course schedule that outlines the entire semester, they are also given a detailed rubric for each major assignment, so there is never a mystery about how they are being evaluated. Most of our students are also relieved that there are absolutely no tests in any of the courses. Although some of our instructorsinstructors give quizzes, these are meant to be a source of information so that they can act in a supportive way to ensure that you understand the content and can put it into practice.

Earning a masters degree is a life-changing accomplishment. It is also one that many Marygrove graduates, working adults and parents just like you, never thought possible.

We’ve been saying it since 1905 and we’re still saying it: You can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching Onlineand we’re here to ensure that you do. We understand the needs of working teachers and parents; that’s why we’ve custom-tailored our program to fit your schedule and your needs.

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

5 Good Reasons to Pursue a Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Dec 2, 2014 3:19:00 PM

masters in reading educationIs pursuing a Masters of Art in Teaching Online “worth it?” We hear this question often—and while we believe that a graduate degree is certainly a financial investment for teachers, we would also argue that there are a number of non-monetary reasons to pursue an online graduate degree that prospective students should not overlook.

Earning a Masters of Art in Teaching Online is Personally Fulfilling

Contrary to popular opinion, pursuing a Masters of Art in Teaching Online doesn’t mean that you have to postpone your “life.” Quite the opposite, actually: It means that you are making a deliberate life choice that will be personally and professionally fulfilling.

Will graduate school challenge you? Absolutely. Will it force you to prioritize? For sure. Will it inspire personal and professional growth? If you have the right attitude, it certainly will.

We can’t speak for you, but being challenged, learning how to live deliberately, learning to prioritize, and growing both personally and professionally all sound a lot like “living.”

Earning a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Gives You What Books Can’t

Some of the most brilliant artists, filmmakers, musicians and professionals are autodidacts—that is, they are either completely or mostly self-taught.

Anyone with a library card or an Amazon.com account can pick up the most recent education literature. You can read these books. You can understand them. You can put this knowledge to good use in the classroom.

However, what these books can’t do is talk back to you. You can’t have a conversation with a book. Pursuing a graduate degree will open up a world of conversations with people that you might never have had the opportunity to learn from or collaborate with.

Masters of Art in Teaching Online Forces You to Take Your Craft Seriously

This next point is an extension of the previous one. Knowledge is only a library card—or a couple of Internet keystrokes—away. And while it is certainly possible to read and learn on your own, many of us lack the discipline to carve out the time that is necessary to do this.

More to the point though, even if one does have the discipline to read during his or her leisure time, truly learning often requires the guidance of scholars and professors who are deeply enmeshed in the field.

By pursuing a MAT degree, you will be forced to set aside time to learn; you will also receive the attention and guidance of professionals who will share their knowledge and experience with you.

Earning a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Can Have a Transformative Effect on You

We’ve yet to meet an educator who got into the teaching business for the money. While there’s no doubt that an advanced degree is a long-term financial investment for teachers, it will also give you immediate access to things that money will never buy: Personal satisfaction, self-fulfillment, pride, personal and professional growth, and the list goes on and on.

Earning a MAT is Challenging, But It’s Also Fun

Let’s be honest, choosing to pursue graduate school is not essential to anyone’s life. No one is wagging their finger or forcing you to matriculate. Therefore, it should be a pleasure, fun, interesting, and something that you believe it ultimately worth your time and money. In our experience, graduate school is all of these things.

 

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching Online, Masters of Art in Teaching Online

Write a Philosophy of Teaching Statement You Can Be Proud Of

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 14, 2014 11:10:00 AM

philosophy_of_teaching_statementA philosophy of teaching statement is one of the most important documents an out-of-work teacher will ever write. Done right, a philosophy of teaching statement can breathe new life into a flimsy CV from an applicant who has little teaching experience. Done wrong, it can cost seasoned veterans the interview no matter how many years of teaching he or she may have under the belt.

So what’s the secret to a successful teaching statement? In our humble opinion, you can start by avoiding these five common pitfalls.

It is too long
In addition to your CV, you also have a teaching portfolio, letters of recommendation, maybe even copies of your most recent evaluations to share with the hiring committee. That’s a lot of paper for your prospective employer to go through and a good reason for you to keep your philosophy of teaching statement short. How short? No more than one page.

Make your statement as readable and aesthetically appealing as possible. That means 12-point font, one-inch margins and enough white space in between your paragraphs to ensure that the reader isn’t overwhelmed.

It tells rather than shows
Your statement is not the place to tell your life story—or even your teaching life story.

Your prospective employer doesn’t want to know that you taught AP English at Roosevelt Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee, that you were truly grateful for the opportunity to work with struggling readers, and that you always used a wide range of videos and online materials to enhance your students’ classroom experience.

Nope, they want to hear about your principles of teaching; they want to see evidence that you exemplify these principles in specific classroom goals and practices. Show. Don’t tell.

In other words, your future employer wants you to demonstrate in concrete and specific terms, what your principles are. Once you’ve done that, he or she will want you to show how you practice these principles and use evidence to illustrate that it was done effectively.

It is rife with clichés
It’s a competitive market and not uncommon for review committees to receive dozens, even hundreds of statements, CVs and application materials from hopeful applicants.

A good number of these materials will be rife with the usual teaching clichés. One of the best ways to distinguish yourself from all of the other applicants is to dispense with common teaching clichés like this:

  • I am passionate about teaching
  • As a child, I used to set up all of my stuffed animals in a makeshift classroom and pretend I was teaching them
  • In my classroom, I encourage open discussion and promote a variety of viewpoints
  • I am passionate about technology and use a variety of multimedia materials
  • I love kids!
  • I am a life-long learner
  • I strive to provide my students with a 21st century learning experience

Skip the clichés and simply give succinct examples from classes that you have taught, examples that are not painfully obvious, but truly vivid and memorable.

It is self-effacing
Nobody likes a bragger. That’s true. And because nobody likes a bragger many of us resort to a tone of affected self-deprecation in our statements. There’s no need to do this. Be confident. Don’t apologize for being good at what you do.

In other words, you can probably skip language like this:

“I was honored to have the opportunity to…”

“I was fortunate to be selected for…”

“I hope that my students will take what they have learned from me and apply it outside of the classroom.”

“I am always striving to do…”

Language like this is “nice,” but it makes the author seem unsure about him or herself. Being “fortunate” suggests that you were given an opportunity without actually earning it. “Hoping” that your “students take what they have learned” from you and “use it outside of the classroom” makes you sound unsure that they are up for the challenge. Skip the self-effacing language and say it like it is!

It is excessively emotional
This is really an extension of the previous point. Excessively emotional language is just as bad as self-effacing language and for exactly the same reasons we stated above.

Here are a few examples:

“I am delighted when students tell me…”

“I would be thrilled to teach your course in xxx…”

“I am so excited to use new materials…”

“It would be a great pleasure to create new courses…”

“I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy…”

 
This blog has been adapted from “The Dreaded Teaching Statement: Eight Pitfalls.”

 

Tags: Philosophy of Teaching Statement

5 Ways to Take the Grind Out of Grading Papers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 13, 2014 10:09:00 AM

gradingThere is a special place in heaven for all teachers, but especially for those of you who teach writing. Not only do you spend five days a week in the classroom, you spend your days “off” grading papers, a task that can not only eat up your entire weekend, but lead to a bad case of burnout.

Grading papers is never going to be a holiday, but there are simple steps you can take to reduce the tedium and time you spend doing it.

5 Ways to Take the Grind Out of Grading Papers

Focus on two major things
If you’re spending forty minutes on each paper (believe me, I’ve done this a time or two), you’re doing way, way too much. If the introduction is disjointed and doesn’t contain a strong thesis statement, there’s no reason for you to address grammar in this paragraph. Why? Because it’s going to change in the next draft anyway. There’s no reason for students to add commas to a paragraph that needs to be rewritten!

Instead of addressing everything in the first draft, focus on two main issues in the paper. This will make the whole process a lot less overwhelming for both you and the students.

Grade one half of the stack; discuss the other half in person; then rotate
I started doing this after my first year of teaching and do I wish I’d thought of it sooner!

Here’s what you do: Divide your stack of essays in half. On the first half, provide written feedback, marginal comments, suggestions, questions, etc. When you’re done, issue a grade and return the essays to your students.

Now, instead of responding to the other half of the pile, simply read them. On the back of the essays, jot down a few bullet points. These will help you remember what you wish to discuss with the other half of your students when you meet with them one-on-one in your five to ten-minute meetings. Five or ten minutes isn’t much, I agree. But if you stick to your rule of only focusing on two major things in each draft, five minutes will be plenty of time.

On the next essay, switch it up. Those students you met with one-on-one will receive written feedback and vice versa.

Mix and match
Instead of starting at the top of the stack, grab four random essays and then top off the pile with an essay from one of your strongest writers. Now put the rest of the essays away and forget about them for the time being. Continue this with each stack of five essays.

Grading a strong paper first will make delving into the next four essays much more pleasant.

No more grading marathons
My mentors and professors always cautioned me against trying to do “too much” when responding to student work. “Focus on two main things in the first draft,” one mentor told me. I didn’t listen—and I certainly paid for it.

You’re not going to believe how much of your job is tied up in paperwork and grading, especially if you are a composition teacher. One of the best things you can do for yourself is create a realistic grading schedule, stick to it, and for goodness’ sake, stop working harder than your students! If you know you can only grade 10-15 papers in a night, don’t bring home a stack of 50; this will stress you out and lead to exhaustion. 

Start a student-run writing center
A couple of years ago, I attended a writing center conference at Oakland University. Out of all the presentations I sat in on, I only recall one of them. This particular presentation was led by five high school seniors who, with the help of their English instructor, created a student-run writing center. These five students were personally selected and trained by their teacher to become writing “consultants.”

With the support of their principal, a room was set aside; for a few hours every week, the “writing center” was open for anyone that needed help with their writing. Writing consultants were not trained to be “grammar geeks”—in fact, they were not even allowed to write on their peers’ essays. Instead, consultants read their peers’ work, asked questions, helped brainstorm for topics, helped with thesis statements, and taught their peers how to better develop their ideas.

Training students will take some time, and you’ll have to work with your administrator to find an appropriate space for your writing center, but I think the payoff could be huge—not only for your students, but for you as well.

Photo credit: E_TAVARES / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

 

Tags: paper grading, grading papers

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