10 Steps to Faster Grading and More of YOUR Time Back!

Grading papers and projects can be one of the biggest time sucks for teachers. Not much feels better than those rare times you are “all caught up.”

In my 10 years as a teacher I’ve found some things that have worked for getting my grading done in less time.

Grading for speed does remind me…Why is education be the only profession that never mentions efficiency? Do you also feel like we are expected to have unlimited time?

Here are the 10 steps I have had the most success with. If the first part of this list sounds kind of boring and generic keep going.

In the long run you will be less likely to be distracted and get back to the rest of your life.

If you are really in a crunch for time cut the exercise and meditating down to just a few minutes of each.

Step 1 — Drink Coffee

I suggest coffee for the caffeine and mood boosting properties. Tea doesn’t provide enough caffeine for me. Energy drinks are the opposite extreme.

Drink a full cup. It will get you moving for step 2.

I put coconut oil in my coffee. The fat binds with the caffeine to make it work longer.

Step 2 — Exercise

What you do isn’t as important as doing it. Yoga. Biking. A brisk walk. Strength training. Doesn’t matter. Just get your heart pumping and blood flowing around your house to get oxygen going to your brain and endorphins pumping.

Step 3 — Hydrate and Eat

Get plenty of water. Your brain is going to work better and faster if hydrated. Get a protein heavy meal. Wolfing down a bunch of bread is going to put you to sleep.

A salad with chicken, egg white omelette, a protein smoothie with fruit, whatever. Just get some good nutrition.

Step 4 — Meditate

Yes, I mention meditation all the time. I do so because it works.

Use Calm.com or Headspace.com.

You will be getting oxygen to your brain and calming down your desire to open more tabs or “one more Youtube video.”

Step 5 — More Coffee

Go grab your coffee from earlier or make another one. Keep sipping that throughout your grading for the caffeine.

Step 6 — Seek Isolation

Get away from the internet (unless you need it to enter grades), your phone, the tv, and other people.

You want this over as soon as possible right? Just put all these distractions away. You already know this. Knowing it is useless. It might be done.

Step 7 — Abandon any kind of multi tasking

It doesn’t work. You are not going to grade and write lesson plans and contact parents all at once.

You lose momentum and energy every time you switch tasks.

Just do one thing at a time. One.

Step 8 — Play the Right Music

Put on a pair of Sennhesier’s or another pair of noise cancelling headphones to enhance your isolation.

Play some jazz, classical, binary beats, trance, techno, nature sounds or something without lyrics. You’ll get in a rhythm and your brain won’t be trying to understand the lyrics.

Step 9 — Work in a logical pattern

Start at the top left of each paper and move to the right and then down.

Visually block out anything else. Sounds simple? It is.

Go one line at a time. One paper at a time. Breathe. Repeat.

Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed.

Step 10 — Hit the Gas!

Go as fast as possible. Push yourself. You can train yourself to do this faster by… practicing going fast. Think of it as practicing for next time. The net time you will save in the long term will be the reward for early stumbles.

You WILL get distracted at some point in the process. Don’t get upset. Just take a breath. Refocus yourself and get back on track.

Leave a comment below. What has best worked for you in grading faster?