Do you need a marking and feedback time-saving toolkit?
No teacher wants to be staying late at work or bringing piles of books home yet we so often do. We do this because we care about doing our job well and many of us set unrealistic expectations of what a good teacher looks like.
We know that our long to-do list will never let up and there will always be more to add to the pile. December has arrived and the Christmas fair and carol concert are all-consuming, so now is the moment to ensure you are using all the tricks in your time management toolkit.
And where do you most need to save time? For many teachers if not all, it’s marking and feedback.
Below you will find some key ways that you can save time on marking and feedback. They may be familiar to you as a Teacher Toolkit reader – we are a vocal ambassador of all the techniques – but here they are all in one place as a reminder and handy reference tool this season of Christmas cheer and end of term marking!
1. Live marking
Switch your mindset from marking after the lesson to marking within the lesson.
Grab that marking pen/highlighter and move around the classroom, spending just a few minutes with each student giving them verbal and written feedback. Highlight a question, underline an error or ask them to explain something further. You are then able to catch any misunderstandings quickly, and move on students who need it.
This technique has the added bonus of meaning some of the work is marked before the end of the lesson!
Read more about live marking here.
2. Marking codes
If your school has them, use them. If you don’t have a set of marking code, create one!
Used correctly, they’re great for cutting down unnecessary teacher comments when a simple letter in a circle will do. Students will need to think about what the code means and identify where they need to edit. If you put the code in the margin, students won’t know where the error is and they will need to hunt for it. But for goodness sake, don’t make it a formal policy and ‘bash teachers over the head’ if they’re not using it.
There’s a useful marking code in this #1MinCPD blog.
3. The power of the highlighter
I use a pink highlighter to indicate something which has been done well and a green highlighter for areas which could be improved. We call this ‘tickled pink’ and ‘green for growth’.
This is not a new concept but it is a great time saver – some colleagues use it another way to say ‘Pink Think’ and ‘Green Great’.
Focus your marking on the learning question/learning objective and highlight away. You probably only need one or two minutes for this per book. The idea is that it doesn’t take you long to assess if they have achieved the objective but it’ll make your students work hard in response. Why? They need to respond to why you’ve highlighted something pink as well as why you’ve highlighted something in green.
There are tips about using a highlighter, and many more marking and feedback time-saving tips here.
Don’t forget the yellow box either!
4. Verbal feedback
Whether your school expects you to write ‘VF’ every time you give verbal feedback or not, there is great power in the process of giving this type of feedback. For a start, it’s quick. Realistically, you could give verbal feedback to most of the students in your class within a lesson, depending on how much feedback you’re giving. Assuming then that the students listen to that feedback, act upon it, and adapt accordingly, you should see evidence of that feedback in action on the page.
5. DIRT in the classroom
Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time or DIRT is a great little acronym for an allotted amount of time spent on reflection and editing. Please ensure this is planned into your curriculum time and not a fancy gimmick or add-on to keep students busy. We use a different colour when we DIRT and it’s becoming a habit that the students now ‘DIRT’ before we finish a lesson. I frequently have whole lessons set aside for DIRT or start the lesson off with it. It’s planned to help students focus on improvements.
You don’t need to ‘deep’ mark every piece of work. Triple-Marking has been quashed! Over the term, prioritise one or two pieces of work which need more time than the others. For those pieces, use your marking codes, live marking, verbal feedback and spend a bit of time after the lesson completing the marking.
Remember, get your students working hard for their progression. They should be spending more time on reflection and editing than you did on marking their work and they are responsible for progressing their learning.
Now go get those highlighters, grab your marking code policy, and claim back your evenings!
See also 5 Marking Tips For Teachers.