What is my teacher saying?


Students may feel frustrated when confronted with a mass of hard-to-read comments on assignments.

There’s a big difference between, “Good Job,” “Gold Mop,” and “Mood Jab.” But half the time, I can’t tell if my teacher wants me to “explain,” or “explode.”

I’ve gotten used to it over the years. I stay up late at night, tapping away on my keyboard just as I’m doing right now writing this article. As I pour my heart and soul into making my essay perfect, I am excited to hand it in, I mean, my teacher will appreciate my hard effort right?

But a few days later when my paper is handed back, I get a huge slap in the face.

First of all, I am annoyed that I can’t even find where my grade is written amongst the overwhelming quantity of illegible red scribbles that decorate the entire page. And then, as I stare at the paper for a solid five minutes, I try and determine what the comments my teacher made are saying.

I can’t tell whether or not my teacher liked my essay since their messy markings may either be saying, “Nice job!” or “Needs work” for all I know. How can I possibly improve my paper if I have a better understanding of quantum physics than their comments?

But the fact that they have to grade over 20 papers at a time makes me a little more understanding, since they can’t keep their scholarly penmanship up for hours on end.

So, I guess all we confused students have to do is speak up, and figure out what our teachers are trying to tell us.

“I try to leave time in class for students to ask me to “translate” anything they can’t read,” Anne Fernandez, an English teacher who admits to having bad penmanship, said.

Although I sometimes feel that my teachers are making their comments unreadable on purpose so that I don’t take offense to their advice, they have assured me otherwise.

“If I’ve spent time writing comments, I want to make sure students can read them!” Fernandez said.