August is almost over and so is the first periodic exams of most schools who follow the quarterly scheme; and before teachers come up with a grade, they, rather we, still have to face one of the most boring things teachers always have to do–checking.
Since my practice teaching days (practicum), i average 4 ballpens for checking in each quarterly exam. Multiply that to 4 gives you 16. Add to that all the pens I need to check other things all year round will probably give you 30 to 40 pens a year.
What are these things teachers have to check anyway? Here is my list.
- artworks and doodles
- other things
I am handling two sections each with twenty-four students which is a total of 48. I am teaching two subjects in second grade. This means assuming that I give a one-page homework and a one-page seatwork in my two subjects daily, I will have to check
2 x 2 x 48 X x 5= 960 papers in a week.
Now if there are around 30 school weeks in year leaving around 3 weeks for those times the classes didn’t meet or the teacher didn’t give any assignments I would have checked
960 x 30 = 19200 papers in a year.
Crazy! This doesn’t even include exams that come in more number of pages. No wonder teachers run out of ink. With all these papers to check, it isn’t surprising that our accuracy lowers, that sometimes we make mistakes in teaching. We usually speed up the process altogether, otherwise we won’t be able to return these checked papers to the students for reference.
With this, I thought of some ways to improve the accuracy of teachers’ checking and preventing them from going crazy as well.
- Check as you go. Don’t Procrastinate. NEVER PROCRASTINATE. Otherwise papers to be checked will accumulate and eventually overwhelm you.
- Check per page. To hasten the process, check per page instead of checking an entire written output of one student. For example if there are 4 pages in a test check all page one, then check all page two, and so on.
- Take checking breaks. After around 3 sets of written outputs, take a walk, listen to music, or eat away from your checking area. Checking non-stop will make checking robotic and might negatively affect your accuracy. When we are so used to any repetitive action, our mind goes on auto mode making us less aware of what we are doing.
- Alternately check varying sets of outputs. Check a set of sciences tests then check a set of English tests then check a set of Math tests (for those classrooms that are self-contained) This will prevent boredom. Boredom is counter productive. Who wants to get bored anyway?
- Check with co-teachers. It’s fun and seeing other people sharing the agony of checking with you is uplifting. Create checking parties in your favorite cafe and check with your colleagues. You can even invite non-teaching friends who might be more enthusiastic about checking than you are. Bring lots of food and even play music but never ever bring booze while checking. DON’T DRINK AND CHECK.
- Cross check. If there is time (specially for essay-type outputs) ask another colleague to recheck for you. This will offer a fresh perspective. Just don’t forget to thank your colleague in your own way (hopefully your way includes a latte, a gift certificate, or food!).
- Check using a non-red pen. Studies show that the red pen has negative effects to both teachers and students. For teachers who use red pen they tend to give lower scores than teachers who opt for non-red pens. Example of this study can be found here When Grading Papers, Red Ink May Mean Lower Scores
Checking is important to student evaluation. It is mainly the teachers’ responsibility to make sure that their checking is near to accurate.
Checking is boring but it is part of being a teacher and teachers do these things for the love of learning and for the love of their students.
That’s how selfless we are. <coughs>.