We keep forgetting: it’s improvement that counts. Not marking. Not grades. It’s improvement that counts.
Marking policies can easily miss the point because they often tell us how many times per term to mark, how many positives and how many next steps to write. You see it doesn’t really matter how you mark or how many next steps a student gets because it’s the improved work following the feedback that counts. As long as your students learn from their mistakes and have to chance to practice their new-found skills then you’ve done your job well.
Take a look at this model, it should be familiar:
a) student hands in work
b) teacher marks it
c) student reads comments then starts their next piece of work
This is totally and utterly wrong. Sorry, but it is!
Every bit of feedback you give a child should contribute to them improving right here, right now. It’s no good telling them to do something in the future, or the next time they do a piece of work that is similar to this one because they won’t. Your students need to immediately sit and work through their improvements either on the work itself (using the purple pen) or by writing it out again on the next page (also using the purple pen)*.
*see post ‘Write on the kid’s work’.
We forget to build improvement time into our lessons. In other words, we forget to give students the time to improve. This is because there is a ‘Marking Policy’ that focuses on marking and lists all the things we should be doing when we mark but leaves out the most vital and important bit – the improvements in the kid’s work!.
1. Mark the work: think ‘What do I need to tell this student to do that will lead them to improve?’.
2. Get the student to improve the work (the same piece of work) as soon as possible.
3. Ask yourself ‘does this work align with my expectations for this child’? If the answer is no, then give them some feedback and send them off to do another draft!
Let me know how you get on.