At the end of Term One, my staff and I are trialled a new way of marking our junior assessment tasks – corporate marking. The aim was to get each year group marked, or at least almost marked, in one day and allow everyone to have more down time over the holidays. I can’t take all the preparation time away, but this will hopefully help!
Normally, one teacher, maybe two, would mark the whole year group. As assessment takes place at the end of each term this meant that the teacher would spend a large proportion of their holidays marking. Add this to preparation for the next term and it isn’t much of holiday. Or, if they left it until after the holidays, they then spent multiple nights in the first week or two of the next term trying to get it marked which meant they soon lost the energy recharge from the holiday. Work life balance is important for all of us and as head teacher I have to try and find more efficient ways of working that will benefit all of us.
So what did our corporate marking entail?
The whole faculty stayed after school on the last Tuesday of term to mark the Year 8, 9 and 10 assessment tasks. There were teams of four for each year group and each group worked together to mark the task.
Before they started, they looked at their own classes work and made some preliminary judgements about the response – which band did they think it fitted in according to the marking rubric?
In the first half hour or so they shared their As, Bs, Cs etc and worked together to flesh out the marking rubric dot points so that everyone was on the same page with what constituted an A to an E. In the next half hour, they worked in pairs double marking tasks and gaining confidence in their marking judgement. The teams then came back together to re-articulate the differences in the bands and clarified any concerns. Finally, everyone started marking individually. The aim was that each teacher should mark at least 25 responses each per hour (each response is only a max of 2 pages).
We kept marking until just after 6:00 and then, thanks to PL funds, we went out to dinner. Dinner out (Thai, if you are curious) with the whole faculty was lovely. It was a chance to connect, laugh and reflect on a very busy term.
Other benefits from our corporate marking afternoon/evening included mentoring our early career teachers, building on our collaborative approach as a faculty and even providing evidence for our PDPs and the School Excellence Framework.
There was still work to be done in the holidays but nowhere near as much as previously. Classroom teachers still needed to add a comment before tasks were handed back to the students – goals and missions. To assist them, they had the marking feedback from the team to help them formulate their feedback/feedforward. Positively, this also helped teachers develop their learning goals for Term Two.
At our faculty meeting on the first day of Term Two, staff reflected on the process and all agreed that we will be doing this again at the end of the term with the Year 7 and 8 tasks. It was decided that markers would actually write some feedback on each task to help guide the class teacher’s feedforward and that the marking leader needs to do quality control (much the same way as is done in HSC Marking) to ensure consistency. Everyone agreed that this approach certainly ensured they came back to school less stressed and that was a key decision about why we did it. I will take all this as a win.