26th January 2007 at 00:00
I have just received a telling off from my head of department for marking in class. My impression was, if the class was silent and focused, then you could get on with some marking?

Any opinions?

Jennifer, Middlesbrough

A. Everyone wants to get marking out of the way, but I think that your head of department was making the point that you should be actively teaching during every lesson. Try marking work with your pupils, explaining ways they can improve, or correcting misconceptions.

Eloise, London

A. If you have a set relevant learning activity which the class is undertaking in a calm and quiet way, there are no obvious problems.

On the other hand, try the "Ofsted test": is this a practice you would even dream of using if there was a chance of an inspection visit?

I suppose the key issue is that if you are marking, then how can you be sure that learning (as opposed to silent non-learning) is taking place? If you can demonstrate that it is, then it should be fine.

Sue, West Sussex

A. "The enemy of learning is the talking teacher". Ring any bells? Of course, your class needs to be working in silence at times, without your input.

Why would you sit and twiddle your thumbs? This would be poor time management. I have always been encouraged to mark in class. It makes for more immediate feedback to pupils too.

Sara, Essex

A. I try to timetable working independently in silence for 20 minutes once a week for my Year 5 class. I figure it's good practice for taking tests and exams. Surely it would be a good use of time to mark work then?

Children should be expected to work independently and silently at times. It is judging the balance that is crucial.

David, Essex

Coming up

I'm thinking of making the move from secondary to primary because I don't feel I'm making a difference, and the pupils don't seem bothered. I like the idea of primary but am worried I won't be able to cope. What do you think?

I've got to come up with a list of 10 tips on how to inject pace into lessons. Any suggestions?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to askateacher@tes.co.uk We pay pound;30 for any published

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