End of the Quarter

P1020475Today is the last day of Toby’s quarter. I say “Toby’s quarter” instead of “the seminary’s quarter” because the actual quarter ended last Thursday, but Toby still had papers due and a meeting with his professor this morning at 10:20. Some of the seminary’s professors allow students extra time for papers and take-home tests. Thoughtful, right? Gracious? Maybe. Truth be told, I am not a big fan of these extensions, especially when they cut into our precious breaks, which may have included a planned day at the zoo, a scheduled date night, or an evening with friends. But Toby feels differently, he seems perfectly happy to be able to extend his quarter a few days.

The meeting he has this morning is with a professor who will be discussing Toby’s final grade for his paper and the class. What makes this professor unique is not his grading rubric. He grades like any other professor. No, it’s his method of grade presentation that is completely distinct. He does his grading in front of you.

Instead of handing out his students’ papers, folded in half, upside down, or at the door at the end of class, he sits down with each student individually while that student looks on, heart-thumping in his throat, anxiously waiting for the professor’s evaluation. He welcomes you to his office, takes your final paper “site-unseen,” and grades it right in front of you. He makes editing comments and content suggestions as he reads; and then concludes by verbally giving you a grade for the paper as well as for the whole class.

Toby described a typical meeting to go as follows:

Professor: (thumbing though the paper) Ah, I see where you’re going here. Mmhmmm.

Toby: (silent)

Professor: Aha! Spellcheck gotcha here. Ha! That is norma normans! Not normal Normans.

Toby: (laughs nervously)

Professor: You started off in the right direction in this first section, but I think you lost it over here.

Toby: (starting to sweat)

Professor: Hmph. You used too many the’s and also’s.

Toby: (cloudy vision)

Professor: Your citations and formatting look good.

Toby: (glimmer of hope)

Professor: Alright, well, overall, good paper. I think it’s worth about a 91% and that makes a 92% for the quarter. Any questions?

Toby: (stunned) Um. No. Thank you. Yes, thank you.

I think that’s pretty daring! My graduate professors uniformly waited until the end of class to hand anything back, and then made a beeline for the door to avoid any student interaction. Most of the time, the professor got away, while the rest of us quickly skimmed through the illegible comments in the margins, to find the final grade on the last page of the paper. After the initial shock wore off, our professor was already halfway home, never to be seen again.

So, by the time you see this blog, Toby will have met with his professor. His professor will have hopefully given him a passing grade, and he will officially be done with his first full year of seminary.

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