Every time a student submits a new assignment, that number ticks up. Every time I submit a grade, the number goes down. Some assignments are really easy to grade — I scan a paragraph and tick off items on a rubric. Other assignments — like a term paper draft — take me an hour and 15 minutes each (because I’m not just assigning a grade, I’m offering the student personalized feedback on how to improve their paper).
Classes don’t even start until tomorrow, and the first homework assignment isn’t due until the day after tomorrow, but that counter has already started going up.
Last term. I told one of my classes, “I teach for free, but I mark papers for a living.”