Professor jennifer hurley

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Doing Less Better

A new semester is about to begin, and already I feel the overwhelm. I feel it in my body: a tightness in my throat and jaw. So many students, so many emails, so many tasks—giant and minute—to manage. As an introvert, teaching often feels to […]

What Makes Teaching Sustainable Is the Same Thing That Makes It Unsustainable

Recently, I’ve witnessed several beautiful teachers walk away from teaching. I felt very sad and also a little jealous. Imagine how free I might feel without teaching! And then there are the teachers who do not walk away from teaching but become more embittered with […]

One Book, Two Hearts Project

This post is to announce the formal launch of the One Book, Two Hearts Project, which will provide a book as a gift to each community college English student at the end of the semester. If you would like to support this project, I am […]

Why Grade Inflation Is Inevitable—and What We Should Do About It

Recently, at the Toyota service center where I had gotten my car repaired, an employee said that I would be getting a survey via email asking me to assess the quality of service I received. “Anything less than five is terrible,” he told me. “It’s […]

Grading Contract – Revised for Spring 2019

Grading This course uses a form of grading called contract grading. There are no points or letter grades in this course, aside from the final letter grade you earn at the end. The premise of contract grading is that if you do the work required […]

On Teaching, Depression, and Tattoos

It took me almost twenty years of teaching to recognize the pattern. Every spring semester, come March, my stress built to an unsustainable point, and I sank down deep into depression. In the spring of 2017, it hit harder than ever, for no particular reason, […]

Grading Without Comparing

In my system of contract grading, my students write a final reflection at the end of the semester discussing their learning in the class. As part of this reflection, they are welcome to make a case for what grade they earned, although it’s wonderful to […]

Is Throwing Out Grades Too Idealistic?

I teach composition, critical thinking, and literature at a community college in the San Francisco Bay Area. For over two years, my teaching has been gradeless, as much as my institution will allow. I assign no letter grades or point values to essays, quizzes, or […]

Slow Teaching

This summer, I’ve been raising caterpillars in my backyard garden. It’s a slow business. Every day, there is quiet, incremental change. Day to day, the caterpillars look mostly the same. But over the course of weeks, a new Monarch caterpillar, only a quarter of an […]

Is Teaching a Sustainable Profession?

After spending a weekend at a retreat with a group of other teachers, I came away worried about whether teaching can be a sustainable profession—whether it can be done over the course of decades, with vigor, love, and increasing excellence. So many teachers I know […]