November is a busy month: lectures are wrapping up, final exams are being prepared, and inboxes are beginning to overflow with items that need grading—midterms, group projects, case studies, final reports—just as Thanksgiving arrives.

It’s a daunting task to complete all the grading while balancing the professional and familial obligations November brings.

Kevin Gannon from Grand View University shares the following strategies to make the grading workflow—and the month of November—more manageable:

  1. Make use of calendars
    If you haven’t scheduled your grading workload for the fall semester yet, this is a simple yet effective strategy to begin using in January. Before you release your course syllabi, put all the assignment due dates into an online or physical calendar using different colours to differentiate the courses. If there is an abundance of overlap in certain dates or weeks, take the time to rearrange them to give yourself some breathing room later in the semester.

  2. Discuss rubrics
    Rubrics, like calendars, require some front-end work before the beginning of a semester but significant time savers when you’re grading. However, it’s not enough to provide students with a copy of the rubric; you should also be taking time to discuss the criteria and benchmarks in class or office hours to mitigate as much confusion and common errors as possible.

  3. Use a microphone
    Writing verbose feedback into the early hours of the morning is a painful process. Instead, consider using speech-to-text software—like Google Docs—to transcribe your oral comments. These transcriptions or audio recordings may then copied into the assessments, providing students with more formative feedback.

Using these strategies may ease the grading workload that November brings, providing more time for your other academic and family obligations.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and marketing strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also a part-time faculty member at Centennial College and serves on the board of the Canadian Public Relations Society.