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It’s the worst feeling in the world – staring at a mountain of papers waiting to be marked. Don’t procrastinate. By using just a few simple strategies, you can cut down on the time and energy needed to tame that pile of assignments, tests or projects.

Start with a rubric.

If students are aware of the expectations for an assignment, it becomes much easier to grade. Students can check their work as they are doing it, and when it gets handed in, the already filled-in rubric is a guide to how the work has been completed. Checking boxes on a rubric is also a much quicker way to grade during a presentation that may include more than one learning outcome.

Grade just one thing.

Instead of simply checking for completion, choose one aspect of the assignment to evaluate. On an essay, perhaps, you would score the number of transitions. Lab reports might be scored on the inclusion of all steps of the scientific method being represented. Narrow your focus and grading becomes much quicker.

Set aside time to grade.

In your daily schedule, make uninterrupted time to finish marking papers. Even if you need to stay after school or come in a bit early, you will be rewarded with the peace of mind that accomplishing a task brings.

Let others help.

Your significant other or a colleague can help you grade papers. Just remember to reciprocate the favour. Marking together can be fun if you meet in a coffee shop or food court and indulge in some treats while you work.

Stagger your assignments.

Don’t make all your big projects due the same day. Give yourself a break by having one class due on Tuesday, and one on Thursday. If students complain, switch the due dates for the next project. Cycle 1 teachers: don’t have papers turned in for every subject every day.

It all doesn’t have to count.

If you find that most students did poorly on an assignment, stop marking and reteach the outcome. There’s no point in spending time marking assignments you will have to reteach. Spend that time on researching a better way to reteach the topic.

Get innovative.

Gradebook and portfolio apps such as Seesaw are excellent ways of recording and informing parents of how their child is doing. Most gradebook programs in our schools only allow periodic access to records, if at all. These new apps allow you to photograph or video work that has been completed and insert it along with marks and feedback into a student’s personal portfolio.

Above all, when it comes to marking, do not procrastinate. Keeping accurate and timely records is as big a part of a teacher’s job, as behaviour management or instruction. Knowing how students are progressing and what they still need to work on, is vital to forming instruction and planning lessons. As a former marking procrastinator myself, I have found that setting goals and specific times, works best for me. Hopefully, some of these tips will get you on the road to marking success!

By Betina Fuentes

Betina is a Cycle 2 teacher at a girls’ school in Al Ain. She and her family are from Florida, USA and are enjoying their time in the UAE. She is looking forward to travelling, meeting other new teachers, and helping her students learn as much as they can.