Marking student work is much like washing big filthy dishes,especially those that don’t find their way to the dish washer. It’s tedious, hard, time consuming but necessary. And the longer you put it off the worst it gets!
Marking provides feedback to the student but also to their teacher. I learnt this quite quickly. I know how my students learn throughout the teaching of a topic but when I mark an entire class on say the topic of Trigonometry, I know how well the concept has been digested. An impressive red tick is as satisfying as having a dirty plate put back clean on the rack.
A teacher with lesson prep, assessment tasks,registers, playground duty, communicating with parents and responding to emails, always has to balance time and pressure from different stakeholders. The pity is, student learning takes the raw end of the deal.
Imagine you have a pristine looking kitchen but hiding there in the far corner, a pile, a very big pile of dirty and may be even half eaten dishes. You will never even know. But you go on making delicious meals (at last you think so!)
I am defnietly for automated marking as it continues to guide student progress, but to free teachers for regular marking would be a dream for many of us. To know our students and how they learn is more than cooking a meal. It’s Van Gogh with his paint brush, it’s Beethoven with the piano, it’s Shakespeare with his pen. It’s …you get the point.
I am not alluding to formal marking (that’s a must), much like dinner. I am speaking about the regular health checks teachers would like to do. Now your household might have 4 or 5 people multiply that by breakfast lunch and dinner and you know what you are in for in terms of dishes. For a teacher with a class of thirty and 5 year classes, each term,with about 5 topics, you start to see our kitchen sink. How many would actually choose to spend their very short time of day completing this arduous task? Most of us take it home. And for those with toddlers, we might have to explain that NO! THAT’S NOT scribble paper, leaving us hiding in our bedroom or study to finish.
Decisions to how a teacher spends their time is not up to the teacher. Time is allocated by time-tablers leaving teachers planning time for about half an hour to an hour a day without face to face time teaching.
As teaching authorities struggle with governments regarding budgets, class sizes and reducing face to face time is imperative for student learning. Maybe COVID-19 can be our time to shine as educators. Maybe they can throw in the kitchen sink too.
Now excuse me, I have to contend with my kitchen sink and possibly buy a much needed dish washer!