Perhaps the most time-consuming part of teaching is marking. I distinctly remember that dreaded feeling of having to mark a mountain of books on Friday after avoiding them all week.
That said, I have learnt that marking is the most critical part of formative and summative feedback and also an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of your teaching.
So, here are a few tricks to make the marking process more effective, efficient and manageable:
1. Tick sheets
Batch-print marking tick sheets with the assessment objectives and grading criteria. Instead of writing the same feedback over and over again, simple place a tick where pupils have met the objective and a cross where pupils need to improve.
This will save you ample time writing and also create consistency for pupils. Adapt each tick sheet according to the task and grading criteria and stick them in pupils’ books as evidence of marking.
2. Create a marking cycle and plan for batch marking
Depending on your department marking policy, create a marking cycle to fit your PPA timetable. Stay up to date with your marking by allocating at least one free period to each class (depending on class size) and stick to it. Keep a record of the class sets you have and haven’t marked to avoid them from piling up at once.
3. Mark as you go
Always have a red pen to hand and give pupils live feedback as you circulate the classroom. This will guide you when you come around to mark their books later and also give pupils a better understanding of their strengths and areas of development as there is room for conversation.
4. Avoid marking for marking’s sake
There is nothing worse than having to mark a poorly written paragraph for the sake of having proof of marking. Instead, plan your lessons so that your pupils have enough time and scaffolding to write a sufficient piece for you to mark. Avoid pointing out too many errors and only give specific and constructive feedback in the margins.
5. Time yourself
Always have a stopwatch or clock handy when marking to prevent you from over marking. Remember that time spent marking is time taken away from planning and preparing fantastic lessons, so balance your time.
You just have to train yourself to be less detail orientated and become more efficient! Avoid writing too many comments in the margins as this also distracts pupils from their main targets.
6. Encourage self and peer marking
Pupils love to mark their own work as it gives them a sense of independence, so allow enough time during the lesson to self and peer assess. Simply provide the success criteria and model examples and model how to mark.
Pupils will then be able to reflect on their own strengths and notice any patterns or errors in their work. Also, ask pupils to tick where they have met their previous targets, so they are informed of their progress over time.
Marking doesn’t have to be a chore, so reflect on your current marking methods and see what is and isn’t working for you. Use their formative feedback as a reflection of your teaching and adapt your lesson planning accordingly. But most importantly, marking needs to be sustainable, so manage your marking efficiently to prevent that marking mountain!
About our Community Expert
Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject - both the study of literature and craft of writing.
After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.
Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.