A child hands me a 60-page CBA rough draft research paper to read/grade. Yes, you read correctly: 6-0. Before he handed it to me, he said, "Mrs. Fitz, do you promise not to kill me? More importantly, do you promise not to hurt yourself?"
I curiously asked, "Why? What's up?" Then he I notice he has something behind his back. He slowly hands me his paper, which feels more like a short novel. Uncertain how he actually was able to staple this large stack of papers, I admit, "Wow, Jan Patrick--this is thick. Wow. All of this on the death penalty?" He nods. "Okay then, I guess you had a lot to say." He nods once more, then says, "And that's not all I have to say. Just wait until the final draft." as he smiles and walks away. ;)
Do I read the entire thing?
The guilty teacher in me says, "Absolutely yes. He took the time to write it, I must read it."
The rational person in my head says, "Well, would scanning do any harm?"
The guilty, caring teacher says, "You have to read it, you just have to. You're cheating him if you don't give him authentic feedback."
The rational person says, "Yeah, but it 60 pages written in cursive that is not the easiest to read."
The guilty teacher who knows I'm his favorite says, "You have to. You just have to. This kid deserves it and wouldn't you want your child's teacher to read their papers when they are older? Plus, you're his favorite teacher and you know it...you can't let him down. He's a smart kid and I'm certain this paper will be fabulous...probably one of the best you've ever read in the last 5 years of teaching this unit."
So yes. Here I go. A research-based persuasive essay written about the death penalty and connected to the Constitutional Amendments, Ideals, and Principles. Bet none of you (including myself) wrote a paper like that in 8th grade...Page 1, opened. Only 59 more to go.