Who are you marking for? Tweet this.
One year ago, I asked if ‘Progress Over Time’ and the removal of lesson gradings had been replaced with a frenzy over marking and redrafting?’ It is obvious from initial evidence that is has! But in this blog, I’d like to unpick even further a marking frenzy that is driving me bonkers every time I see other teachers/schools marking in this a particular way. It may work for you, your students and your school/staff, but for me it is absolute nonsense and further proof of ‘evidence Ofsted trails’.
So, what is it you ask? Well, last week, I tweeted this;
Verbal Feedback Stamping:
Listen to what I have to say about Verbal Feedback Stamps.
Verbal Feedback Stamps are a direct outcome of The Marking Frenzy and Ofsted fads. VFSM, or Verbal Feedback Stamp Madness – have no doubt – stems from Ofsted fads to show progress in lessons and over time. Whether you have been told to show this: within a lesson; every 20 minutes; or to show your senior leadership teams that students are acting on (every aspect) of teacher feedback! ‘Verbal Feedback Stamping’ is absolutely bonkers and is a waste of your time. It adds no value to a student’s learning.
I have taken 60 students’ books home this weekend to complete my ‘September marking.’ n.b. I normally only take books home each half-term, but my workload at the start of the year has been usually busy and has left me with little time to mark ‘at work.’ This has been a conscientious choice and is breaking away with my traditions. It may be that I am still coming to terms with life as a deputy headteacher. So, at home and on this occasion, I plan on using the Yellow Box methodology to focus on key areas of assessment and feedback.
To avoid endless truck-loads of ‘flicks and ticks’, I aim to complete each exercise book in one minute which should equate to 1 hour in total. In reality, I will be distracted; day-dream and/or veer-off from my original intentions. Dare I say, the clock will reveal the actual workload required 2-3 hours later …
However, at no time will ‘Verbal Feedback Stamps’ feature in my marking as evidence of dialogue. What is said, should remain in speech and remain evident in a student’s piece of work the next time it is reviewed. Students may of course refer back to a verbal-feedback conversation in an evaluation/review of work completed, but at no point should a ‘stamp’ be used to evidence that teacher and child has spoken to one another! Agree? Tweet it.
Pros and Cons:
Allow me to explain what I consider advantages and disadvantages of VFS;
|It’s a total waste of time!
|It’s a visual reminder for you and the student.
|It adds no value to the learning.
|It’s proof to school leaders and inspectors that you are (actually) speaking to your students!
|It’s proof that you are stamping for evidence trails and not really for you or the student.
|It adds to the marking frenzy, your workload and worse of all, supports Ofsted fads to ‘show progress’.
I’m sure there are many more pros and cons; what’s missing? Add them to the comments below.
“Oi, teacher! Stop it now! …”
Question Your Marking Pedagogy!
What do the 5 stakeholders (student, teacher, parent, senior leader and inspector) say about marking?
- Parents love reading marking in their child’s book. It shows their child has been taught and that the teacher has spent time working with them.
- Senior leaders also enjoy evidence of marking. Looking at marking is a quick snapshot system of identifying work output from staff and pupils.
- Inspectors adore marking. So much so, when they came to inspect teaching in my school into the 3rd week of this school year, they referred back to marking in books from the previous academic year! Inspectors make a valued judgement once every three years, and marking is some of the only tangible evidence that there is to demonstrate that there has been some teaching in the previous year. The question remains, has marking aided progress and have students acted on feedback? Only books and results will provide this hard evidence. And this is where I believe the Marking Frenzy may stem from.
- Teachers. Hands up? No teacher loves *marking. Why is this? Well, in my view, teachers are not given enough time within their directed time / workload to be able to complete the demands of marking placed upon them. This needs to change and no politician or school will be able to eradicate this problem unless a genuine workload is addressed with a budget, used to reduce teaching hours and replace this with time for planning and marking! Simple.
- Students. Kids rarely get the value of marking either. Very often they seek a reward, and rarely read the comments. All sorts of strategies are manufactured in order for students to act on feedback before receiving the rewards of ‘a grade.’
This leaves us with a huge problem – the two key stakeholders in marking – the producer (teacher) and consumer (student) – get the least from it. How could we change this? On this note, I will say that this and this has transformed my marking and work-life balance in and out of the classroom. Source: You can read @MrLockyer‘s presentation slides here.
This image should help clarify unnecessary workload;
As part of our drive to produce a common Learning Policy for all teaching staff, we have produced a one-page summary. It says’
“Marking has two purposes. One, students act on feedback and make progress over time. Two, it informs future planning and teaching.
- Teachers must have a secure overview of the starting points, progress and context of all students.
- Marking must be primarily formative including use of a yellow box which is clear about what students must act upon and selective marking, where relevant.
- Marking and feedback must be regular
- The marking code must be used.”
- Our whole-school approach to marking is here; including presentations.
- 12 Ways to Embrace Marking and Feedback.
- A Common-Sense Approach to Marking is here for all schools to consider.
- What NOT to mark? is here.
If you carry on stamping the word ‘verbal feedback’ into your students books, you only have yourself to blame for the marking frenzy and Ofsted fads. Stop it now I tell you, stop it now! Tweet this?