The Other Side of Hell Week: Profs Speak Up

The Other Side of Hell Week: Profs Speak Up

Many college students like to complain about the amount of work that they have to accomplish as the semester ends, giving rise to the term “hell week.” However, what a lot of people overlook is that if hell week exists for students, then it also exists for teachers. So how does the other side of hell week look like? We asked a number of teachers about their views.

Responses have been edited for clarity.

Is Hell Week for Teachers Harder?

Since most of our interviewees are in their 20s, many can still recall their undergraduate days. And for most, the amount of pressure is the same, whether you’re a student or a teacher. But for teachers, the source of pressure is different—it’s beating the deadline to check papers and submit grades.

As Drew, who teaches English at a private university in Manila, puts it: “It's the endless marking and consultation with the students about their essays that is the challenge, and it happens nearly every day anyway, so I personally am used to it. Hell week just means a whole week of checking papers.”

Jaja, who teaches at the same university as Drew, adds: “It's just the checking that presents a challenge. But other than that, it's nothing out of the ordinary. If you're a teacher who's also studying, though, it becomes a different story.”

Destiny, who is currently teaching Math at a state university in Los Banos, has an explanation for the stress: “The amount of work that teachers need to do is simply different when it’s hell week for students. However, the cerebral work is minimal. It’s just stressful because it’s very tiring.”

A Public Struggle

That said, hell week can be even more taxing for teachers in state universities and colleges. With these institutions constrained by small budgets, teachers are forced to handle very large classes.

Kat, who used to teach at a state college in Pampanga, narrates how she had to accommodate 50 to 60 students for each English class. At first, she included essay-type questions in her exams to gauge her students’ writing ability. But with three classes to teach, she eventually shifted to an objective-type exam—meaning multiple-choice and identification-type questions—to make the checking load bearable.

Remz, who also teaches at a state university in Leyte, concurs. She relates how her current English 10 class has 121 students, which means a pile of quizzes, essays, and tests to check while preparing and delivering lessons every day. At the same time, she also has to help out in research and in the university extension service. To top it all off, she will get fined and served a memo if she turns in the grades late.

Of Subjects and Policies

Grappling with school policy is not unique to public institutions. Heck, who teaches Literature at a private university in Intramuros, shares how he had to change parts of his exam to identification and enumeration formats just to fit the school’s online system. As a compromise, he just allotted a bigger percentage of the grade to the essay portion of the test; he explains that writing is the best way to test and evaluate students in the subject.

Other subjects also have specific demands on their teachers. Lester, who teaches at a state university in Quezon City, explains that most of his work is done before and after the hell week of students. This is due to the fact that he has to prepare the exams at the same time as the lessons; and after hell week, he has to check those exams. Even if he teaches the same subjects every semester for the BS Family Life and Child Development course, he still has to revise his lessons based on new issues in the field.

Sometimes, students themselves are also to blame for their teachers’ stress during hell week. Lester gripes that checking exams can even get harder if the student has horrible penmanship.

Meanwhile, Destiny shares that some students have the bad habit of scheduling a consultation with her only when the pre-final grades have been released. This is not to say that students should refrain from consulting with their professors; in fact, Destiny says, they’re highly encouraged to do so. If only that these students sought out her help earlier, hell week would be less stressful for both parties. (Related read: 7 Apps for Cramming)

As all these responses show, hell week is definitely tough—and in some cases tougher—on teachers. That said, there are things that students can do to make things bearable for their teachers. So before students complain about the workload, they should also remember that their teacher will be also having the same challenges as they are. That, or we'll just have to wait for the day when robots are smart enough to check essays.

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Clara Buenconsejo
Clara Buenconsejo

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