This of course always never happens to me because I am a well prepared teacher who plans everything is advance, but on the off-chance it does happen to you (because you are an English teacher who actually reads her students work), don’t panic. I am about to share the biggest secret I have: I don’t grade everything even though I tell the kids I do. At the end of the day, I have WAY more than the required number of grades in the gradebook, so if it comes down to the wire, a handful of assignments have been known to make their own way into the recycling bin “disappear.” They are never major assignments and usually something we just did as practice for something bigger anyway, but if I don’t collect everything, the kids think they don’t have to do their best, so I collect it all.
Sometimes you can also let assignments roll over into next quarter if they have been done during the last two weeks of the grading period. The exception to this would obviously be if it is the last quarter. If all else fails, you can always get a couple of days of grading done by putting on a relevant movie assigning your kids to independent study and then giving them an assignment that goes along with it that will be due at the end. Since my periods are 90 minutes on an alternating block schedule, this will literally buy me 4 days of grading time. It is something I only do 2-3 times per year and it is always (and I do mean always) relevant to what the students are studying so that I can justify it on my lesson plans (ex, we just finished reading Romeo and Juliet and now they are comparing the play to the 1996 Baz Luhrmann version and writing a film review about the stylistic differences in storytelling). Plan these days to coincide with the end of the quarter and you will thank yourself later and declare yourself a genius.