@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

30 thoughts on “Verbal Feedback Stamp Madness!

  • 27th September 2015 at 9:35 am
    Permalink

    Yep! I have collected all our stamps in – none in classrooms anymore!! Success criteria (no more than 3) to mark against in longer pieces of work (once every week) Simply highlight in green 3 things they’ve done well and the number of the SC in margin to which it refers. Then an Improvement only comment which child responds to in green pen. Monitoring of books focuses on did the comment move the learning forward/improve the piece? Teachers report that marking is now easier, more focused and manageable. And yes we have kept last year’s books to show the progress which is hugely evident just from flicking through from start to finish!!! This madness has to stop!!! Hope you’ve had a great start to the year, Ross! All the best! Tracey

    Reply
    • 27th September 2015 at 9:40 am
      Permalink

      Hi Tracey. Great start to year – very busy start – but should settle down next week. So good to hear you have collected ALL of your verbal feedback stamps in across the school; good for you!

      Reply
  • 27th September 2015 at 9:36 am
    Permalink

    In my view we see marking as the final stage of teaching something. We plan, we teach and we mark we then plan, teach and mark and so on. I do think there is a stage we often miss or overlook before we mark, before we teach and before we plan. That stage is “What do I want to know what my students and have learnt and how best can I determine this?” As my mentor said to me when I started teaching “Work out what you want to know before you ask the question”. This approach not only determines the type of marking and feedback we give but validates in too. Adopting this approach we can ‘stand up to’ Ofsted or whoever wants to challenge our marking.

    Marking is an assessment of learning but we already know not all students demonstrate or record their learning and not all students do well in tests. Marking also involves seeing or observing learning and so marking can be a complex process. Not all teachers like marking but all teachers like to see the learning progress of their students. Knowing what you are looking for and orchestrating opportunities for demonstration helps this process. Marking looses some of its drudgery (in fact if you are finding marking a drudge I would suggest you are not doing it right – you are not using your marking to inform your planning and teaching) and when approached in this way and we engender a more celebratory view of marking.

    Reply
    • 18th November 2015 at 6:43 pm
      Permalink

      I quite agree…I am irritated by the fact that some schools ask for planning for a week in advance? This seems to me to be entirely contrary to everything everyone knows about teaching and learning! My marking IS my planning and my differentiation

      Reply
      • 19th November 2015 at 6:31 am
        Permalink

        You may have to get ‘creative’ in how you respond to any one who requests “planning a week in advance”. I have seen good teachers tear themselves apart along with their relationship with the students because they felt they had to stick to their advanced planning. They knew it was not was needed but because it had been submitted they tried to deliver it in case they were challenged for not delivering the planned lesson. You know your students, your subject so sometimes the “plan” goes out of the window and you have to react to what is happening in the lesson (and in the previous one). Where this is the case it’s hardly worth beating yourself up about producing some crystal ball gazing planning document. That is what I mean about being ‘creative’. I’ll leave this point with a link to a diagram about how the teacher/learner relationship needs to be actively protected. http://wp.me/p2LphS-kk

  • 27th September 2015 at 9:43 am
    Permalink

    What about asking students to bullet point your verbal feedback to help students process what you have said and as a reminder to them to act upon it. (Limit to 2 bullet points etc)

    Reply
    • 27th September 2015 at 11:02 am
      Permalink

      I don’t see any harm in doing this as long as it is constructed re-drafting time; it would be impossible to ask students to do this every time a conversation was had = evidence acting on feedback, rather than ‘actually’ doing it without saying/writing down what they will intend to do. We need to move to a point where we get back to teaching, and students ‘just getting on’ with what the teacher asks them to do without (the need of demonstrating to other observers) asking if students have listened.

      Reply
    • 27th September 2015 at 1:01 pm
      Permalink

      This is what we have been trying to do. And using stamps(!) to prompt students to write down what is said to them. As with anything, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way (and the why) that you do it…?

      Reply
      • 11th October 2015 at 2:56 am
        Permalink

        Same – I give them feedback and stamp – they go and write their target and I then look for that in the next piece of work. I’ve found conferencing more effective than writing a comment as I know that the students have engaged with the feedback as I was part of the conversation.

  • 27th September 2015 at 12:48 pm
    Permalink

    I taught a Primary 1 class (Reception Class) last year . . .I gave verbal feedback to the children as they worked. I was expected to write comments based on the success criteria (tickled pink/green for growth). The children couldn’t read them! So who was the marking for? I had already figured out what they needed to do next to make progress through reading and discussing their work with them. The marking was only for management/parents/inspectors and had nothing to do with the learning. A complete waste of time in my opinion.

    Reply
    • 8th October 2015 at 8:09 pm
      Permalink

      I teach y1 and am expected to leave half a bloody page of marking for children who can’t read it and a moving on comment!!!!! No, we spoke and I will remind children in next lesson because they will have forgotten……marking for SMT. Another case of lack of trust in schools! Please let us do our job!

      Reply
  • 27th September 2015 at 2:43 pm
    Permalink

    One little stamp to bridge one wide trust gap between the classroom teacher and whoever’s checking their books… The only true evidence of effective feedback is improvement in the students’ work. Meaningful improvements need a bit of time to show up – as well as line managers who know what to look for.

    I agree: the stamps are a sad form of surrender to Ofteditis!

    Reply
  • 27th September 2015 at 2:43 pm
    Permalink

    I use mine in lessons, not as assessment for learning or to evidence conversations, but as a marker for me personally. When I take books in to mark a specific piece I can see whether one or two students are taking all my time up in lessons, or if there are students I’m not speaking to very often.

    With 43 lessons a fortnight there’s no way I can reflect on this without something I can go back to and check over a longer period than a lesson.

    Reply
    • 3rd October 2015 at 8:33 pm
      Permalink

      Totally agree. Vfs is for me to monitor who I am talking to the most in class and more importantly who never gets a look in. There is a place for them but should never be used to show some external monitor how I’m marking

      Reply
  • 27th September 2015 at 3:21 pm
    Permalink

    IF I were for some reason routinely (spontaneous verbal feedback is always important from time to time) using verbal feedback, it would be in conjunction with students using an e-portfolio that included their considerations of importance, understanding, planning, and revising approaches. Students would know such efforts are expected with them included in their final course grade proposal.

    Reply
  • 1st October 2015 at 6:00 pm
    Permalink

    Unfortunately the “verbal feedback stamp” is seen as good practice in my school. Sadly I have just used one for the first time. I feel so dirty.

    Reply
  • 2nd October 2015 at 10:33 pm
    Permalink

    In my experience we had colleagues with consistently weak teaching using these in a core dept. to ‘paper over cracks’ where purposeful feedback was not taking place… Just used for show, complete waste of time and money.

    Reply
  • 3rd October 2015 at 7:19 pm
    Permalink

    A key issue you do not address is the consequence of working in a school where the policy is that every piece of work must be marked and that books will be collected by the head and check. I believe talking to children about their work is essential and I am then not going to mark is just so that when others look at my books they are satisfied everything is marked. Therefore a sticker (stampers are banned) to indicate verbal feedback was given negates me waisting my time or having to justify myself.

    Reply
  • 4th October 2015 at 2:56 pm
    Permalink

    Personally, I have never used ‘verbal feedback stamps’ and don’t intend to. However, at the same time I appreciate there is no definitive way to successfully mark and have seen stamps used effectively (particularly in practical subjects) – they can make students acknowledge the importance of verbal feedback which can be overlooked – “in one ear out the next”, as the old saying goes. The stamp raises the status of verbal conversations, saying to the pupil that what I just told you is important, I expect you to respond to this advice. As some contributors have suggested, it can also be taken to the next step by asking pupils to record the teacher’s guidance next to the stamp. It’s easy to belittle staff who feel the need to evidence for OFSTED, but for some people these choices are huge, their job could be on the line. Stamping is quick and hassle free – there’s definitely no harm caused and offers potential for improvement. Of course, they also encourage (nudge) teachers to give more verbal advice and to think more carefully about the quality of their guidance – which as the Sutton Trust and John Hattie, to name but two, have pointed out can be extremely powerful in terms of progress.

    Let’s not kid ourselves – effective marking takes time whatever method you use. Like many colleagues I have tried a wide range of techniques to ensure personalised / appropriate feedback in a realistic amount of time. I’m still struggling to get a class set done in anything less than 90mins. Let’s not pretend that getting rid of stamps, or any other technique, is going to significantly reduce this workload, as it isn’t.

    Reply
    • 18th November 2015 at 6:40 pm
      Permalink

      While I quite agree that the stamps can be a box ticking exercise, anyone who has worked in a school going into category will know that Ofsted often going on schools with an agenda and will leap on anything to find fault. Those of us still clinging on in LEA schools are feeling particularly vulnerable and personally, if it’s between a 1 second stamp to tick an Ofsted box and the misery of years in category and forced academisation, I’d say the stamp. (Even if it means hanging my head in shame as an appeaser.)

      Reply
  • 10th October 2015 at 10:08 am
    Permalink

    Verbal feedback stamps are not about showing evidence of marking. They are about giving pupils an opportunity to record what we say to them, in their own words. The fact that we are having the conversation with them in the first place means there is something they have not understood in the whole class teaching. We all know that when we revisit a topic some pupils have often forgotten what we thought they knew. If you must think of these stamps as marking, then think of them as marking for your pupils. It takes no time at all to put a stamp on a piece of work as you go round your class talking with your pupils. There is too much negativity in this post for my liking.

    Reply
    • 11th October 2015 at 10:20 am
      Permalink

      I agree with you, Gillian. If used properly, it can show the teacher (and the child!) whether they have understood and acted upon any advice given while practising key skills. It can actually cut down on the need for more ‘marking’ (although ‘feedback’ is what we should be thinking about) out of lessons. Whether you use a stamp or not, pupils should still note verbal comments to help them in the future. My colleagues love them; we have no rules about how to use them/having to use them – that would be wrong.

      Reply
  • 11th October 2015 at 2:52 pm
    Permalink

    Even the term is stupid. Almost all detailed feedback is verbal. Personally I don’t use semaphore or symbols, though I will admit to facial expressions and to ticking answers.

    Reply
  • Pingback:Progress over time: Why there may be still a place for ‘well done’ – jenjaynewilson

  • 7th November 2015 at 3:06 pm
    Permalink

    I love this blog, however it is my school policy to use VF stamps/write it in the margin during lessons and they have to respond in their different coloured pen. Do you have any links to good research articles to show SLT? I do not want to have negative book scrunities, but neither do I plan on ever using VF stamps in my pedagogy.

    Reply
  • 12th November 2015 at 10:35 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t think anyone in their right mind would flick through their students books retrospectively stamping pages thinking “ah yes, I spoke to that student” stamp
    I DO have an verbal feedback given stamp and I use it after brief conversations with students as I circulate the classroom. I stamp their work and they add a bullet point or a few key words to crystallise the conversation so they may refer back to my direct, personal feedback as they continue.

    Reply
  • 13th November 2015 at 9:21 pm
    Permalink

    Hello – great post. Do you have a photo of the yellow box strategy in action please? Thanks

    Reply
  • Pingback:Everyday Feedback & Marking | Everyday MFL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.