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How to......ease your marking workload

My eyes are sore, my batteries are flat. I've had an overdose of marking.

You need an injection of pampering. Try a hot spa, a rigorous regime of colonic irrigation and seaweed poultices applied by a muscular Russian weightlifter. And a big bar of chocolate on the way home.

OK, I'll add that to my continuous professional development plan. But my class still needs feedback.

Taking the pressure off you, let pupils mark each other's work. Give them a mark scheme and discourage physical violence. Give silent reading tasks and assess them with quick questions and answers. Just make sure you've read the piece, too. Don't mark everything, be selective. Target imagination this week, punctuation next. Have oral presentations and assess them as they come. Go for drawings, diagrams, mind-maps and display work to avoid written marking and to give non-writers a chance. Encourage improvement through drafting and evaluating.

Sounds great, but I can't avoid assessing written work completely, can I?

No, it comes with the territory. But you can minimise the after-effects. Set a series of tasks as one assignment and mark it one-to-one alongside pupils so you can talk to them. Marking can create a barrier between you; discussion removes it.

Any other tips?

Ban red pens - they shout "angry". Give constructive, positive comments and try to avoid crude marks out of 10. Ask questions. Start a dialogue if you can.

And with all my new spare time?

Go home. Live a little. Eat that chocolate in the bath

Duncan Grey is author of 100 Essential Lists for Teachers and Getting the Buggers to Learn (Continuum)

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