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All marks and sparkle

Marking is rapidly becoming more complicated than I imagined. So there are right and wrong answers, a tick here and an "I think you should think about this a little more" there. So far so good. Next paper. Tick. But this pupil has thought more about the question and I think it deserves more than the last. Can I really just give one solitary, cold tick? There are quotations and everything. OK, I'll give this question two marks. Dodged that minefield. A well-deserved pat on the back for me, I think.

Ah nuts. The perfect answer: erudite, precise and well-argued. But sadly it doesn't address the question. Can't give her a tick. Should I give her some encouraging words instead? I'll do that and hopefully won't crush her spirit.

Could I really do that with a single comment? Are pupils so fragile? Yes. My teacher did that to me when I was at school... Anyway, don't get sidetracked. Loads to do. Have I really only done three?

"Well done Jon". Hold on a sec, is that how you spell his name? Doesn't it have an "H"? See what happens when you try and personalise it? Should I Tipp-Ex it? He'll think I wrote someone else's name, and I don't even know who he is. There isn't room to explain what happened and give comments about his work. I'll put a Post-it Note on it. Am I thinking about this too much?

What do you mean it's 10.30pm? This was only supposed to take an hour. I'll be finished in 15 minutes, I promise. I've got to be up by five anyway.

Blah... rhythm... blah... iambic... blah... four stanzas... bla- WHAT? Are you having a laugh? Do they not know the difference between plural, possession and contraction? Can't be too hard on them, as on my first CV I committed the sin of writing "GCSE's". We are going to go over this tomorrow until they cry.

Sigh... Couldn't I leave this until tomorrow? I could mark this on the bus. I'll be more focused then. Oh Lord. I had better get a seat if I am getting up before dawn

Caroline Garner is studying a PGCE in English at Greenwich University.

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