Workload Reduction Toolkit: 5 Ways to Reduce Marking Workload For Teachers

Workload Reduction Toolkit: 5 Ways to Reduce Marking Workload For Teachers

GL Assessment’s survey of more than 800 school staff, found that “marking and data collation continues to be a major source of concern and stress for teachers in England”. Bearing that in mind, Beyond shares our workload reduction toolkit for teachers!

When asked about what would have the greatest impact on reducing workload and improving wellbeing 38 percent of teachers said addressing marking and 32 percent said reducing the collation of data.

Many teachers would agree that what often feels like never ending marking is one of the worst aspects of the job. We’ve all had that bright class who are a joy to teach but happen to write so-darn-much. No matter how great their essays are by the twentieth one you are well and truly fed up. 

For those of you who spend all your time marking here are some ways to work smarter, not harder: introducing Beyond’s workload reduction toolkit…

Workload Reduction Toolkit

1. Mini Whiteboards 

Mini whiteboards are an awesome way to keep pupils writing and engaged without adding to your marking workload. They are able to complete the majority of the work on the whiteboards and save their books for assessments and key information. This way, it’ll be easy to keep their books marked and up to date. Who said every piece of work has to be in the books anyway? 

2. Self-marking/Reflection 

This one is tried and true! Whenever you get a chance, get the pupils to mark their own work. It works best when the answers are on the board at the end so everyone can see them clearly. This technique also allows your pupils to self-reflect and course correct. The instant feedback they receive allows them to spot their strengths and see where they have gone wrong and how they can improve. Encouraging pupils to reattempt a portion of their work will help them make progress. 

3. Peer Assessment 

This one can be a little tricky to fit into your workload reduction toolkit because pupils will attempt to get away with writing the bare minimum. There have been countless times when I’ve seen pupils write “good work” or “nothing” in the WWW and EBI sections of their partner’s assessment. Make a point to explain the kind of feedback you expect and encourage pupils to be impartial when marking. The purpose of peer assessment is to make the work they produce more effective. It’s hard to do that with bias or lazy feedback. 

4. Create a Generic Mark Sheet for your Workload Reduction Toolkit 

Creating a generic mark sheet cuts marking time in half! It’s such a life saver because it only requires the initial investment of making it and then from there the pupils do the hard work. The generic mark sheet has a list of abbreviations and their meanings. You could have things like ‘SP’ for spelling error and ‘WC’ for word choice (this can be used if you want your pupils to use a more sophisticated word choice). These errors can be corrected during self reflection time. 

Writing out targets over and over was the most time consuming part of marking. The mark sheet should also have a list of targets based on the success criteria. I suggest a maximum of 10 fairly short targets so it can fit on the board easily. 

An example of this could be target 1 is  “to improve spelling and correct errors”. 

You’d simply write the number ‘1’ in their book when you’re marking and your pupil would write out the full sentence during self reflection time. The pupils are in charge of writing their own targets. The only other thing you would have to do is write their grade! 

5. Chunk it Down 

We’ve all been that teacher who takes 60 books home to mark over the weekend or worse – an evening! Life can get very bleak when you’ve reached that point. The best way to avoid this is chunking it down. Give yourself a reasonable deadline and mark five books at a time. Here and there. It’s just the right balance between feeling accomplished and avoiding overwhelm. The books end up getting marked with ease! 

If you can’t manage your marking, re-evaluate the way you are going about it. Consider some of these tips (especially no.4) and see if it saves you more time and gives you more joy…

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