Having just spent yet another Sunday marking instead of the many other things I could have been doing on my day off, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with what, at times, seems a pointless task. While I’m all for marking a sustained piece of work where I can give some detailed feedback on how a student can progress further, I really cannot see the point in marking for the sake of ensuring the student has the all-important green pen on practically every page in their book. Another teacher told me recently that in her school they are now expected to mark notes taken in the lesson- what is the point of that? Surely, every book will contain the same work and what is more, it isn’t even the student’s own work as the work will be collaborative.

Marking undoubtedly improves my understanding of where a student is at in terms of their learning, as I mark an enthusiastic student’s written work I often see that the brilliant responses they have contributed in class discussions have not materialised in their writing and I need to think of a different way of teaching the topic, however this also takes time if you want to plan a detailed, informative and interesting lesson.

Marking so frequently has clearly affected my planning, often lessons are hurriedly put together because I haven’t had time to include as much as I would like because my time has been taken up by the mountain of books waiting to have the obligatory detailed feedback on how to progress further, which never seem to disappear from my desk and consequently behaviour issues arise because students just ‘don’t get it’. How many times, have I heard myself and other colleagues say what a great lesson they have just had because the lesson was so well planned? More than I can remember actually, how lovely it would be to have the time to do this for every lesson. A former colleague who I met while an enthusiastic NQT, left the teaching profession after many years teaching not long after I began my career, her reason? The increasing workload and pressure of marking, her words have resonated with me ever since: ‘I can mark or I can plan great lessons but I can’t do both’. How ridiculous I thought at the time, surely it’s your job to do both, yet now here I am, a few years into teaching thinking how right she was; there really isn’t enough time to do both.

Teacher X

 

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