My eyes, they are strained

I’ve been going through my students’ online discussion posts this semester, looking at the statistics, and I think I’m about ready to collapse.

So far this semester, I’ve written 276 discussion posts. Many of them are short replies to questions or comments on other posts, but several have been lengthy essays. But that’s not the part that hurts my brain.

I have also read 1,218 posts this semester.

Of those, a full 999 were formal response essays, and while the average of all my classes was well below the required 600 words per essay, the posts did average around 400 words a pop, which is roughly a single typed page, double-spaced. That means, had I been reading these on paper, as if my students had turned them in during class, I’d have read almost 1,000 pages this semester.

And that’s only counting response essays. It doesn’t count the slew of questions, workshop group discussions, and pop-culture commentary my students also posted. It also doesn’t count their formal research papers.

If I count only the papers I received and read, and I assume an average of 3 pages per short paper and 8 pages per long paper (which is about what the averages were), I also read 1,124 pages of research.

And then there were my students’ research portfolios, full of abstracts and outlines and bibliographies and notes.

And their e-mails, sometimes as many as a dozen a day.

On top of all that, I also judged our campus Creative Writing contest, which added another 400 pages or so of reading, and I’ve been working with a student creative writing group (though I admit, I don’t always find time to read all their work), which has added another few dozen pages.

With all this, somehow I’ve managed to also stay on top of my New Yorkers, half my Shambhala Suns, and a few of my issues of One Story; squeeze in three books this semester; and regularly read several blogs and news articles, as well as every word of every issue of our student newspaper.

No wonder I’ve finally had to start wearing reading glasses once in a while.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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