Verbal Feedback Stamps Revisited

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Verbal Feedback


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Who are you marking for?

A decade on, the dialogue around marking continues to be a significant point of discussion among teachers.

Reflecting on previous conversations, I thought it was worth revisiting the concept of ‘Verbal Feedback Stamps‘ and its place in today’s classrooms.

Verbal Feedback Stamps were once a novel response to the demands of demonstrating progress, a byproduct of a former Ofsted framework, which today appears as a relic of a bygone era, but it silll evident in some teaching and learning policies.

The intention of the VF stamp was clear: to visibly evidence any dialogue occurring between the teacher and pupil.

Utter nonsense, I say.

The core of the problem lies not in the tool itself but in the philosophy of any school’s approach to feedback and assessment. Effective requires students to ACT upon the feedback given.

A teacher may speak to their students and provide them with something concise, meaningful and practical; something students can use immediately.

Or, they can stamp their book!

The stamp, viewed in a student’s book the next day, the next week or during an Ofsted inspection in six months’ time, offers NO future value to the student.

It’s an excellent evidence trail for somebody who was not in the classroom. Therefore, this key question emerges:

Do verbal feedback stamps contribute or detract students from taking any action?

In one of the resources I share in teacher training sessions, when the room is evaluating teacher workload versus pedagogical strategies, this template offers useful guidelines for teachers and school leaders.

What teachers in all schools should be trying to achieve are strategies that offer, high impact for low effort.

(See bottom right, green zone).


Effort Vs Input Matrix

The dialogue around marking is far from settled despite a decade of marking and feedback evolution; it remains the number one bugbear for teachers.

Any debate about the use of Verbal Feedback Stamps or any other classroom intervention should always start and end with this question: What value does this approach have for the student?

As teachers, it is essential that we always scrutinise our practices critically. The time spent on marking, the nature of the feedback provided, and the subsequent actions taken by students …

C’mon, show me the research.

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