I read an article recently about a school that had stopped teachers from marking altogether. Instead, every two weeks, the teachers had a one to one with pupils to discuss their work… Can you imagine how liberating that would feel?
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t lucky enough to work in a school like that and marking becomes one of the most difficult things to manage as a result. Until your school stops marking entirely, here are some of the things I find helpful to make it manageable:
- Strategic speaking and listening units: I always look at my year as a whole and plan in speaking and listening units for times when my marking burden will be heavy. For example, just after mock exams for Year 11, I would do a unit of work with KS3 that I can assess on speaking and listening.
- Peer and self-marking: If you can train your students to be vigilant and to look for the right things (by using clear criteria), they can mark their own and each other’s work and you can just cast an eye on it. This is an excellent skill for them to have come exam time when you won’t be there to check their work.
- Do it on the hoof – I have a stamp that says ‘verbal feedback given’ so when I was walking around the class, where I stop and discuss work with a pupil, I give them a stamp to show we’d talked about it and ask the student to write a couple of targets on their work.
- Make use of Beyond– Of course, we’ve thought about marking and here are a couple of items (here and here) which can help because they allow you to highlight the areas for improvement rather than writing lengthy comments.