Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 27 2011

One day, I’ll get them to help me too.

I can’t tell you how much attention I get when I grade papers in public. People will just stare at my pile of tests and watch as I work through them. Anyone sitting by me will feel the need to ask me what I teach and where I teach it. Despite the fact that supermarkets regularly decide that it is not worth carding me to buy alcohol, plenty of people will pry into my age and make it clear that I’m probably not old enough to be a teacher.

I really don’t mind it (random conversations with friendly people are actually a nice break from mindless work), but I do find it exceedingly strange. Marking hundreds of problems as correct or incorrect is hardly a riveting activity, and yet I know from experience that I could wear a ridiculous costume on the street and get less attention. My theory is that people are fascinated because everyone feels connected to teaching (we’ve all been students for long enough) and grading is a familiar enough concept that they feel like it’s fair game to be their business. I also wonder if it’s a little like briefly getting to go backstage at a show they watched every day for years. I don’t know… I guess it doesn’t really make sense, but it’s true. Strangers LOVE to watch grading.

2 Responses

  1. In total agreement here. Funny that I never thought of that until you mentioned it. It’s a universal thing. Watching teachers grade is just pure fun.

  2. Wess

    SO true! I don’t do it often (I’ve learned to move my stacks of paper as little as possible), but when I do, there are always comments. I think your reasons are absolutely right–everyone has known teachers and wondered what they do when they’re not at school… seeing someone grading papers in a coffeeshop fulfills those wonderings perfectly.

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