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Stop Procrastinating! Get Back to Grading!

It’s the time of year when we look for any alternative to correcting student work.

November 29, 2022

’Tis the season for procrastination. Once, a colleague told me, “It’s not the grading I hate; it’s the correcting. Grading is easy. Correcting takes time because you must explain why something is wrong.” Most of us hate to correct papers and tests (even though we promise ourselves every semester, “No more short answer questions!”).

And because correcting student work takes time and effort, many try to avoid the task by doing absolutely everything and anything other than grading. Finding a momentary escape from the inevitable can be alluring. So, I herein provide a distraction to honor the great academic custom of procrastination. The following confessions of procrastinators chronicles things people have done (or purportedly done) to avoid grading.*

  1. Bitch about grading on social media.
  2. Google your own name.
  3. Google your own name + “scholar.”
  4. Google your own name + “scholar” + “professor.”
  5. Google “Criteria to win a Pulitzer.”
  6. Bake bread.
  7. Craft (“I find paint by number as effective as meditation!”).
  8. Order googly eyes and an appliqué patch of a cat with a knife in its mouth for future crafting.
  9. Update anonymous Twitter/Mastodon/Instagram/Facebook accounts that you use to rail against the administration.
  10. Buy a gold lamé kaftan and snood on Amazon.
  11. Order a cat portrait on Etsy made from cat fur collected from a cat brush (what a great Christmas gift!).
  12. Constantly refresh the Web of Science database to see if the number of citations for your journal paper has increased.
  13. Clean out the pantry. (Ask yourself, “Why did I buy this jar of pickled pigs’ feet last summer?”)
  14. Sort socks. (Stop waiting; throw out the singles. And no, Goodwill doesn’t want them.)
  15. Watch QVC and wonder when you became your mother.
  16. Drop off old TVs, clothing, kids’ textbooks and Legos at Goodwill.
  17. Go to Target for light bulbs and come home three hours later.
  18. Call distant relatives—“It’s been a while!”
  19. Remove pills from sweaters.
  20. Boil toothbrushes.
  21. Throw out expired medicine. (Cough drops do go bad!)
  22. Compare reviews on RateMyProfessor with student essays to figure out who said what.
  23. Make a formal complaint to RateMyProfessor about your hotness score—“I’m more than just a pretty face! It’s about my research and impact.”
  24. Make a pitcher of old fashioneds and drink them.
  25. DM your best friend from grad school and ask him to write you a good review on RateMyProfessor (mention needing a better hotness score).
  26. Review Board of Trustee minutes to see if your department has been eliminated.
  27. Scroll Tinder, screenshot an administrator’s profile and text it to the entire Faculty Senate.
  28. Look for a new position.
  29. Search for inconsistencies and loopholes in the Faculty Manual under the section “academic freedom.”
  30. Binge-watch Chrisley Knows Best, Hoarders and Toddlers and Tiaras.
  31. Cover your palm with Elmer’s glue, let it dry, peel it off and pretend it’s snakeskin.
  32. Change browsers (or figure out to use private browsing) because you’ve read five of five free articles this month on Inside Higher Ed.
  33. Scour the internet searching for the most recent and free JCR impact factors. Curse aloud about your institution being too cheap to pay for it.
  34. Rearrange books by shape and color. Make a separate shelf for your published works (use a plant to ensure they don’t fall over).
  35. Aggressively update ORCID, ResearchGate, Mendeley, Medium and LinkedIn.
  36. Roll coins located in a big bowl next to the front door.
  37. Read in-depth views relative to leaf rake science on Wirecutter.
  38. Walk the dog and talk to a neighbor about leaf rake science.
  39. Go to Lowe’s and buy a leaf blower.
  40. Launch an anonymous Change.org petition about leaf-blowing on college campuses. (“I can’t hear myself talk!”)
  41. Plan out sabbaticals for the rest of your career.
  42. Prepare TikTok video, research poster, PowerPoint and handouts about faculty compensation to present at the May 2023 Board of Trustees meeting.
  43. Make an Excel spreadsheet catalog of underwear (style, color and disposition).
  44. Organize shirts in the closet by color and use (i.e., lecture, reception with trustees and casual Fridays).
  45. Rehouse your collection of coprolites in archival boxes.
  46. Watch YouTube videos on how to train a cat to walk on a leash.
  47. Make a Spotify playlist featuring songs about quitting your job.
  48. Speculate about an academic affairs reorganization on the faculty Listserv to see what happens next.
  49. Eat Oreos with a fine Chardonnay.
  50. Read this column.

Now, get back to grading!

*Please note: the gathering of this information was not conducted using best practices or one bit of scientific methodology. These things may or may not have happened when I or colleagues I know have avoided grading.

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Kathy Johnson Bowles

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