Teachers are tired. This school year has been hard. For decades, schools have been becoming more and more of a one stop shop (and attempted solution) for social, economic, and systemic issues that, let’s face it, schools were never designed to do. Teachers cannot be all things at once. A sustainable work schedule simply does not allow it. Teachers should be able focus on student academic growth and feel supported by those outside their classroom for the many other facets of growing children into strong adults.
One way that Thinking Nation hopes to alleviate teacher burdens while maintaining our commitment to drive student learning forward is through grading student essays. When Thinking Nation first began, we knew we wanted to build an online platform where teachers could assign robust historical essays, students could submit those essays, and then we would grade them, providing teachers with critical data to push the learners in their class forward. It remains one of our primary services for schools.
We believe that part of cultivating thinking citizens through the teaching of historical thinking is providing teachers with the tools and time to do so. As a department head, I noticed that one of the biggest obstacles for getting students to complete robust tasks that required deep thinking, analysis, and writing, was the grading that resulted for the teacher. Simply, when we ask more from our students, we are asking more of ourselves. As necessary as it is, it is exhausting. On average, for every DBQ I administered to my 130-150 students, I spent 12+ hours of my weekends grading. But teachers have hundreds of daily responsibilities, and many of those have to wait till after the school day. By grading student essays, teachers can redeem that time.
We want to cultivate thinking citizens. Time constraints and the need for data and vertical alignment creates a difficult puzzle. But, having outside graders assess student work on a uniform rubric can truly elevate student work and empower them to be deep, historical thinkers. For this reason, at Thinking Nation, we have expert teacher-graders to provide clear and helpful feedback for both teachers and students on student writing. Teachers are tired. Let’s support them.