Tiger Times

The source behind the success

English+teacher+Michele+Rigdon+works+on+grading+papers.+She+teaches+multiple+English+classes+and+is+dedicated+to+the+success+of+her+students.
English teacher Michele Rigdon works on grading papers. She teaches multiple English classes and is dedicated to the success of her students.

English teacher Michele Rigdon works on grading papers. She teaches multiple English classes and is dedicated to the success of her students.

Photo by Holland Rainwater

Photo by Holland Rainwater

English teacher Michele Rigdon works on grading papers. She teaches multiple English classes and is dedicated to the success of her students.

Story by Colton Johnson, editor in chief

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In my mother’s bedroom, stacks on stacks of folders–mountains of research, definition and argumentative papers never seem to leave her floor. As soon as one round of grading is finished, another is there to take its place. It’s a race she never can seem to finish.

This routine of taking papers home is psychologically malicious, expected and ingrained. Teachers must grade, yes, but teachers also devise lesson plans, manage schedules and withstand teenage hormones. However, to do so means taking time out of their own personal lives, the time when they must also fulfill the role of a spouse, of a child, of widows and mourners. It turns their life into a series of choices, of weighing which moments they want to be a part of against which moments they must dedicate to their job.

Teaching became a way of her balancing her priorities, personal and professional and normalizing routines. She takes a stack with her pretty much everywhere she goes on the off chance that she might find some time to grade. Baseball games, football practices and family gatherings are involuntarily accompanied by the thoughts of her students on the page.  

It is a never ending cycle. A cycle that most students rarely see. All they see is in the classroom. They do not however watch as the mother of three loads her cart with papers to take out of the door when she leaves to go home. Just as students expect teachers to understand that they should have a life outside of the classroom, teachers expect to have a life away from their job.

My mom gave up time every day during her Christmas break in order to grade papers. She limited the number she would grade a day, her “diet,” to keep herself from pulling all nighters, surviving on coffee and silence.

Teachers can’t turn out grades on essays and reports the moment they are handed in. The grading itself is meticulous and demanding. It is impossible for a teacher with over 90 dual credit students, each turning in a 5 page paper, to turn around and give the grades back immediately. They are often marked off as lazy procrastinators who give grades depending on the mood they’re in, because it takes longer than usual. When teachers don’t immediately turn around with grades in the gradebook, students become frustrated, but they do not take into consideration the fact that not every teacher can just run a scantron through a machine.

It is not just an eight hour job. It is waking up at 3 o’clock to start grading. It is bringing papers to grade on vacation. It is individually working with each student in order to make sure they will not be left cluelessly scrambling in college. ”

— Colton Johnson

It is important for everyone, student or parent, to understand the work that goes into being a teacher before forming bias or unweighted judgments.

It is not just an eight hour job. It is waking up at 3 o’clock to start grading. It is bringing papers to grade on vacation. It is individually working with each student in order to make sure they will not be left cluelessly scrambling in college. Teachers like my mom are rare. Their work goes unappreciated. Taken for granted, or worse, expected.

It is true that not every teacher is going to put as much effort into fine tuning details like I see my mother do. Like I see my director do who stays at the theater until 10 o’clock sometimes in order to make sure that every detail is in place so we make a masterpiece rather than simply a play on stage. People like my publications advisers who come up to the school on weekends and stay until 8 o’clock on work nights in order to make sure that photos are processed correctly and the paper and yearbook hold the high bar they have set.

It is these people who value quality work, who set a foundation for students to then build a quality character. It is these people who see the students as human. They see their flaws as well as their perfections. Their trials and their success. They see them for more than just a number.

We owe a lot to these teachers. They have more of an influence on the people we become than we give them credit for. It is not pity they deserve for the labor they put in, it is respect. It is understanding. They are people with lives and families, suffering and joy just the same as the students they teach.”

— Colton Johnson

They understand what it means to live a life, and they know that a life is measured in the good that one puts into the world. They want to watch a student grow whether it be as a writer, an actor, a photographer or as a person.

If we did not have teachers like them, who go the extra mile to give quality feedback and teaching without being asked, then who would set the example for students to then do the same?

We owe a lot to these teachers. They have more of an influence on the people we become than we give them credit for. It is not pity they deserve for the labor they put in, it is respect. It is understanding. They are people with lives and families, suffering and joy just the same as the students they teach.

There is humanity in them, in all of us, which links us together. It is a bond that cannot be forgotten or overlooked. It is rare, it is special and it is not to be taken for granted.

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About the Writer
Colton Johnson, editor in chief
If a tragically humiliating outbreak of stress hives the week before Prom didn’t stop senior Colton Johnson from obtaining ⅓ of the power over the print newspaper along with his fearless co-editors in chief, then it seems that nothing can truly break this free flyin colt (knock on wood). In his three years serving on...
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