To mark or not to mark? That is the written feedback question

by Jodie Lopez

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There are a number of schools now who have made massive changes to their marking and feedback policy - most notably to change it to just a feedback policy. In simple terms this means that teachers are more free to provide feedback to students in a way which suits them and has the largest impact. Gone are the packs of 8 coloured pens - Purple for Progress, Red for Revisions, and Tickled Pink for Positives! Schools are starting to see their way through the years of being told that if it isn't marked in depth then you might as well have not bothered. People are now realising that the quality of the feedback is not in the reams of teacher writing (with obligatory "OK Miss" added by students to show they had taken comments on board) and that feedback can take many forms.

Verbal feedback is, of course, a great option for instant feedback if you can work your way around the class during lesson time. But beware the "Verbal Feedback" stamps and stickers - they don't seem to add to much other than workload either! Whole class feedback can be a way to reduce workload, but again many schools have written forms to complete for this too which are then used as evidence so it can cause some issues too.

What no-one is saying at any point is that feedback is not required. Feedback is essential as part of any student learning journey. It is essential that they know what they did right and what their next steps are. Quality feedback is a necessary part of teaching. Every teacher actually will be giving feedback through lessons anyway - whether it's a response to a student question or how they tackle assessment for learning as part of the lesson - adapting the lesson as needed on the way. And teachers will use their marking time still to look through books and get a general idea of what the whole class needs next - move on? Cover part of that again? Cover it all again? Go back to prior learning to consolidate? It won't take as long to do this if they are able to collate this into assessment and lesson planning directly, though, rather than spend hours writing half a page of comments into each book. 

Changing the marking policy to include a range of acceptable feedback methods can really free a teacher up to be flexible in their own, and their class's, needs. If it has a negative impact on results and progress of course there would need to be more guidance perhaps. But research has not shown that to be the case so long as some sort of timely and effective feedback is used.

One way you could be adding feedback for your class could be via Kinteract. Without needing to specify how often you need to add data or assessments, Kinteract leaves each school and teacher to come up with their own way of working. Teachers do like some autonomy, as do schools, so why not let them use Kinteract in whichever way suits them, their class, and their subject/key stage best. 

Teacher A might decide to give verbal feedback but add Next Steps for students onto Kinteract for them and their parents to view. You wouldn't want to say that they would do this for every child, every lesson. But when that vital Next Steps is obvious Kinteract is a good place to track the progress of that and share it outside of the classroom too. 

Teacher B may choose to add group feedback to Kinteract. One post with multiple students tagged cuts down on workload in the efficient way that only technology can. This also cuts down on paper wastage which is a good financial bonus in current climates!

Teacher C may choose not to add regular feedback but will regularly update assessments based on what they have seen from the student books. Again this could be adding to multiple students at once which is much easier than writing in every book or printing out lots of updated target sheets for the books!

Teacher D may choose to add verbal feedback via the app - easily done as an alternative to typing if that is your preference. They also add the occasional supporting document or photo of the work so that parents and students can see from home what they are referring to. 

Let us know how you are using Kinteract, or contact us to discuss how we can make your feedback quicker and easier and save you staring guiltily at the pile of books on your dining table!