Answers to the Second Edition of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management are being posted sequentially over the next few days.

The answers given here represent the author’s personal opinions and should be used to form the basis of discussion. You may have your own thoughts to share – why not comment at the Rogers Community Forum or on Richard’s blog?

Question time! Page 23

1. What is the purpose of marking? Why should we mark our students’ work anyway?

Marking provides students with acknowledgement for the work they have done. Without marking, students can feel that their efforts are worthless – that their hard work is not appreciated.

Marking also allows teachers to provide feedback – pointing out ‘mistakes’ and the methods to correct them. When this is done in a caring, non-confrontational way, it really can help students to enjoy the process of constant personal improvement.

Marking also allows the teacher to become intimate with the skills, attributes, abilities and needs of a particular class of students. By checking classwork and homework regularly, teachers can find out information about:

  • Key problems that seem to recur (e.g. calculation difficulties)
  • Presentation skills and artistic ability
  • Misconceptions picked up along the way (by individuals and by whole classes)
  • Skills issues (e.g. not labeling diagrams correctly, failure to use a ruler when drawing tables)
  • Effort and determination

On a final note we must not forget that marking should also aim to encourage and motivate students. A few genuine and specific words of praise can have a massive impact on a child’s sense of self-confidence.

2. Which ‘Golden Rule of Praise and Encouragement’ (page 18) is most important and why?

They’re all pretty important to be honest, but one does stand out as being particularly impactful: ‘Praise only works if it is sincere’. Praise should never be faked – we do our students a massive disservice when we over-praise, or use flattery.

The real world doesn’t hand-out participation medals for showing up, nor does it reward mediocrity. In order to train each generation for the trials of life we must ensure that they have earned their praise – that effort has been shown to achieve the positive feedback; the certificate; the medal.

In addition to this, sincere praise is quite simply more effective than flattery. Children are not stupid – they know when we’re being honest and when we’re exaggerating. Be specific – find something worthwhile to celebrate.