There seems to be certain times during a term when we can feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork coming in. During those times, it makes sense to establish some priorities concerning how we approach “marking” the various assignments.
It’s sometimes tempting to rationalize not giving any feedback on or returning some homework assignments by thinking that there are intrinsic benefits for students to just do the exercises. We say to ourselves that it’s not absolutely vital that they get them back quickly (or even, in some cases, ever). Thus, we might consider doing a “triage” with assignments. Essays might get top priority for our time and attention with “lesser” assignments just filed away or held off until sometime in the future when we are all caught up.
Surprisingly, this feeling of being overwhelmed can actually open up a motivation to respond to homework assignments in a way that is more effective than how we would “normally” do it when we have plenty of time.