Like any ultimately incredibly rewarding career, teaching has its challenges. The biggest of which is how to manage your time between creating inspiring lessons and marking the work that students do in those lessons. Below are 7 different techniques you can use in the classroom to manage your marking workload dependent on the age of your students, and the subjects that you teach.
- Set varied homework (all ages)
A good way to ensure that your marking mountain doesn’t get too steep is to set homework across varied mediums such as research tasks or online quiz’s. These are easy to set up and will ensure that the student is using a variety of skills, as well as breaking up the marking cycle. Leave big projects for half-terms where you will have more time to go through each student’s work.
- Peer marking (for less subjective subjects)
When you have set a task, ask your students to bring in their homework and give it to a friend to mark. You can stand at the front of the class and read out the correct answers, answer any questions the students have while marking, and all the time save yourself from hours of looking over the same assignment for every student in your class.
- Gallery marking (for KS3 students)
This is one for subjects such as creative writing that allow for more collaborative feedback and can be used instead of peer marking to allow each student to get constructive criticism from many perspectives. Each student is given post-it notes, and must write a helpful comment on each students work. This way, there are varying opinions that can help develop a student's existing skill, as well as allowing live marking in the lesson.
- Mark in the lesson (for KS1 & KS2 students)
Sit down with a few students each lesson and mark their homework with them. Not only will this speed up marking after hours, but it can be very beneficial for a student to sit with their teacher and understand their mistakes. If your school requires you to have evidence of marking, you can use a “verbal feedback given” stamp (although this may not be accepted in all schools)
- Don’t write so much (for smaller classes in KS3 & KS4)
When a student has made a mistake that you really want them to learn from, it may be tempting to write a paragraph as an explanation. The student will gain just as much insight, if not more, from a small mark to note the mistake and then a conversation with you in class about it. Remember for a student to effectively learn, it’s about the quality of your feedback, not the quantity.
- Use stickers (KS1, KS2 & KS3 but dependent on school marking policy)
Whether you are teaching in a primary or secondary school, stickers can be useful for a whole range of different marking styles. You will need to tailor your use of stickers to your class, but stickers that include a comment on them will always speed up marking time. You can often find fully customisable stickers online that will allow you to say exactly what you want to say with them, or there are standardised ones such as “You’re on target – keep it up” or simple smiley faces that can show feedback positive or otherwise.
- Reduce spot testing (KS3 & KS4)
Have a look at your students’ progress and analyse if surprise tests actually help their development. If there is no clear correlation between these tests and an increase in the quality of students’ work and understanding, stop doing them! There’s no point giving yourself extra work if it is not benefiting you or your students in the long run. If you do see improvement following these tests, design them to be peer mark-able to reduce marking time.
What do you think? Are these tips realistic? What are your top tips for marking? Lets us know via Facebook and Twitter.
We would like to wish a massive thank you to Miss Rachel Meaney who advised on this article.