The Diversion of Marking (again) – Mr Till

An English teacher is thinking the unthinkable – much good may it do us all!

A well known feature of being a teacher is marking books. As an English department we mark a lot. The policy states somewhere we should be doing 2 stars and a wish? Or is it an achievement, target and response? Perhaps a praise sandwich? There should then be a written comment from the student to show they have taken on board what you have said and have grown as a person as a result (or at least as a student of English). This we are told is meant to be excellent practice for marking and is what OFSTED really want to see.

Thought – written feedback from teachers is a waste of time.

Unintended consequences of this – there is a large gap between completion of work and feedback. It will limit the amount of extended writing tasks we are prepared to do due to the ENORMOUS workload. It means that despite best intentions the teacher work-life balance is a bit skewed in favour of marking rather than anything else! AND teachers could also be using time to do other things which might improve teaching, learning as well as education.

So do all students know how to improve? There are ways to ensure that pupils know how to improve their work, which don’t take hours and hours of teacher time. After work has been completed in the following lesson common errors can be identified, model examples can be deconstructed and discussed, strategic re-teaching of various elements can also take place. This cuts down the re-writing of comments and time spent on penning diatribes on why an essay has totally missed the point of a question.

Could it be done differently? It is definitely worth a try, if only for a more contented teacher!