Which is also why I hate teaching. I hate teaching because at the end of the day (or semester, for precision), I have to evaluate these kids who I have grown fond of, and attach a number to their name that equals either success or failure. I have to not think about Student A as the sweet kid who chose me as the person they wanted to come out to for the first time ever, and start thinking of Student A as the student who didn't submit half of Portfolio Four and therefore cannot get an A. I have to stop thinking about Student B as a personable guy who is facing serious financial issues and doing his best to get fit homework in between two jobs and a family, and start thinking about Student B as the student who, in spite of numerous verbal agreements and extensions, never did get caught up and therefore cannot pass.
Throughout the semester, I am amused by that one kid who shows up every day and never turns in anything. I share stories (with names redacted for privacy) about the student who wrote 120 words for an assignment calling for 1000 and was astonished at the resulting grade, or who emailed me last week to ask if it was too late to hand in a paper that was due in September and by the way what is that paper supposed to be about? But today, as I tally grades, it's a lot harder to laugh. Every semester, the Sunday before grades are due makes me even more stressed than my own finals, because it always comes as a big damn shock that some of "my class" is going to fail. The fact that I know I can't make students write papers, that I gave them every chance to get their work in, that in all honest fact they are the masters of their grade, that doesn't make any difference today. All semester, I got to teach people. And I loved it. Today I have to fail people. And I hate it.