I have a cunning plan

I’ll be OK! I’ve managed to plow through that massive pile of student essays by the simple expedient of getting up at 3:30am on Sunday and working through midnight, and I got them all read and sprinkled them with comments. I’m not quite done: now that I’ve got a good idea of their relative merit, I’m grinding through them all again and assigning grades, and uploading electronic copies that I can send to the remote black rectangles I affectionately regard as my students. I should be able to complete this final stage by mid-afternoon and put this one behind me.

Good thing, too, because I’m handing out another take-home exam on Wednesday, which they’ll return to me on Saturday. The hamster wheel is spinning fast, folks! I think the axle is glowing cherry red, but I’m hoping it’ll last a little longer. The next exam, I have decided, will be a series of genetics problems where the answers are just pure, simple, clean numbers — they’ll turn in a page with 10 numbers on it, and they’re either right or wrong, and I just go down the list and check them off. I should be able to survive next weekend, right? And have time to compose the comprehensive final exam they’ll get the week after?

Then tonight I burn the midnight oil again to finish up this stack of lab reports.

Oh yeah, I also have a second class I have to finish up by tomorrow, and they get another exam on Thursday.

I have a long to-do list in front of me, but don’t worry, I’ve penciled “sleep” in for a few hours on Friday, right after “spiders”.

Imagine, this whole university is full of highly-trained Ph.D.s who are going to be bleeding from the eyeballs for the next couple of weeks, and we’re all going to crash spectacularly on approximately the 16th of May, when we can finally close the books on this semester.


  1. strangerinastrangeland says

    After reading this, now I like my situation even more: Working in a governmental research institute with ties to universities. So, while we do our scientific research we are encouraged (but not forced) by our higher powers to be involved in teaching at those universities to some extent.. Best of two worlds! (Sorry PZ, I don’t want to sound smug or make you jealous; just being happy about my luck here.)

    On the other hand, you have at least live black rectangular students. We were asked to pre-record our lectures and upload them onto the university server last year. No direct feedback at all, which was so weird and I think not good for my teaching performance. Well, we will see how they want to play it this year with ongoing vaccinations and our country having a quite good grip on the virus at the moment. Maybe they will go back to face-to-face lectures. My next course is not until mid-September, so plenty of time to get things sorted.

  2. PaulBC says

    That sounds on the cusp of impossibility. Can’t any of the grading be delegated? Do you have any grad students or even undergrad TAs?

  3. says

    #4: No.

    Well, we do have undergrad TAs who assist in lab teaching. But there would be problems with putting them to work grading exams.

  4. dschultz says

    When I took engineering thermodynamics years ago, the tests went one step further from just a simple number. They were all multiple choice. Plug your numbers into the equation you selected, crunch them, then hope it matched one of the choices. No partial credit of course.

    The average on the weekly quizzes (70% of final grade) were so low and my scores so high, I almost skipped the final exam.

  5. bodach says

    One of the bonuses for being retired (and sliding slowly toward the grave) is not having to work so hard. Sounds quite nasty. Indulge yourself and buy a better whiskey to sip while you’re going through that grading.
    Take care of yourself, PZ. Call Mary and the kids often.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    “Getting up at 3.30 am and working through midnight”
    I am two years younger and I would not be able to keep that pace for more than two consecutive days.
    BTW those little white pills the truck drivers tend to use for this purpose are NOT good for your health.