Whenever I talk to my teaching friends on campus at the end of session, I hear moaning and groaning: “I love teaching if there wasn’t all this marking!” For many teachers marking isn’t enjoyable, and they usually go into survival mode for a few weeks or an intense couple of days (and nights!) just after exam time.
Here are some helpful tips on how to manage intense marking periods and stay sane:
- Start with some reflection. What is it actually about end-of-session marking that you don’t want to do? Can you address it now or does it need to be addressed before next assessment round?
- Reframe marking. I remind myself that this is actually an interesting and rewarding activity. I tell myself I have worked with my students for weeks to get them to this point and should enjoy seeing them being able to take this exam, write this paper, argue that question. This is my chance to provide them with feedback that will help them to learn, consolidate their knowledge and improve in the future.
- Redesign assessments. There are ways and strategies of changing your assignments to reduce the marking load. For instance, why not have students self-assess and peer-assess each other to do most of the legwork for you? Would a quiz with automated feedback and responses do the job? Use Turnitin’s Feedback Studio features, pre-defined quickmarks, rubrics, and record spoken feedback to save you time. (A word of caution here: quickmarks can save you time typing up comments on ‘technical’ aspects such as grammar, word choice, etc. but they don’t replace meaningful feedback.) Talk to your Faculty Learning and Teaching teams (e.g. learning designers) about methods and possibilities that may suit your needs.
- Plan for marking days. Sounds simple and yet, many just do it in their heads. Do your calculations, how much time can I spend per essay/exam/paper, realistically assess the time needed, include breaks, and mark your calendar days as ‘busy marking’.
- Part of the planning is choosing a place that will support productivity, perhaps even make it enjoyable. Dan Ariely, a renowned behavioural economist and TED speaker on motivation, has 6 secrets to efficiency and time management.
- Finally, trick & treat yourself into work you don’t want to do. Dan Ariely advises treating yourself to yummy snacks, (good!) coffee, and whatever else you need to boost your motivation and sustain your focus and well-being during intense marking periods.