Less Larking, More Marking



We don't blame you, honestly we don't. When life gives you half term, marking and work related to-dos are never, ever going to be at the top of the list. There's so much to do in so little time and incorporating coursework and exam papers into that just means that you can't quite let your hair down, so it's all hidden somewhere until 8pm on a Sunday evening.

Finding the correct work/life balance is difficult as a teacher. People think that plenty of long breaks and time away from the classroom make your job a walk in the park but they forget how much you take home with you. Motivating yourself to concentrate on something other than catching up on Game of Thrones is always going to be tough, but there are plenty of ways to tackle your marking so that it seems a little more bearable.

Before you say it, we never implied it was going to be easy, but tackling that pile of paper head on and pacing it out MIGHT just mean you can have an extra six hours to sit and hate Monday when the end of the week draws to a close...


The solution to the syndrome of procrastination and binge marking is simple: tackle just a few essays each day. If I have 80 essays and need to finish marking them in two weeks, I set myself a target of six every day. Six essays seem much less daunting than 80.


Marking requires mental effort, and the mind behaves like a muscle. Do too much and it gets tired and cries out in pain. Do the right amount and it gets stronger day by day. Start in the morning with a good cup of coffee and a heart breaky. That way you have the rest of the day to look forward to whilst feeling good about being good.


It's best to accept that you don't enjoy marking, but try to make it worthwhile by teaming it up with something you do. Whether this be a glass of wine, good snacks, your favourite programme on in the background or a playlist that spurs you on, incorporating a bit of the 'good stuff' in will take the edge of the aching hand and square eyes.


If you're at a bit of a loose end and feeling that the world is against you, it's great to network with others that are in the exact same position. Twitter offers a fantastic range of teacher hashtags: #ukedchat #teaching #teacherlife and #cpchat, to connect educators all over the world. Share your rants, ask for help and discuss all of your ideas with similar individuals to add a little 'umph' to your day. Sometimes staring at a pile of work that just never seems to disappear can be super daunting, so another person's perspective on the situation may be the answer to your problems.


Peer marking, if arranged well, can be really effective. Model the process first; explaining what they need to look for when assessing the work of their classmate, and encourage open communication. Not only will this encourage students to think, communicate and assess their own mistakes, but it frees up evenings for you and allows you all to move onto the next day without any draw backs.


If you're friends with a colleague or mentor then plan an afternoon where you can both sit together and spur each other on. Sometimes it's great to share the load and it's the best excuse to get all of your groans out before the new term starts. The time spent together will be far more productive.


Without trying to drop even more work into the mix, it's definitely recommended to mark in a room that isn't a huge distraction. The clutter competes for your attention in the same way your student might stand next to you asking all different types of questions, even though you might be able to focus for a short period of time, you’re still aware that a child is vying for answers, so it's inevitable that you're going to put your pen down.

Have some of your own nifty tips? Share them with us by tweeting @staffroomed.