Teachers have to work hard to get all of their students’ feedback on their work, but sadly it is very time consuming and there is a limit to just how in-depth a teacher may go. Teachers have a lot of tasks to handle as it is without the worry of adding yet more time to their feedback routine.
When I first started my teaching career as a Spanish teacher, I found that busy-work was rarely graded to the point where students were not applying themselves to it. They saw it as we did, i.e. a way to keep the students busy for a while. This idea would sometimes carry over into other tasks that students did--tasks that were more important.
I then decided to start grading all busy-work such as practice tests, but soon discovered my pile of grading had increased dramatically. Add to this the time I had to spend grading my other more important work, and my time was increasingly stretched.
I considered myself a creative teacher and tried having students grade each other’s papers. However, students soon started correcting the work of their peers and I found that student grades rose sharply. Therefore, I had students mark each other’s papers with red pencils. Students may use best essay service, but communication is essential for written skills.
The sad part was that keeping the red pencils became a chore, and my lessons soon became known as a place to get free red pencils. Potential cheating was lowered, but I found that much of my lesson time was taken up with the warm-up exercises and busy-work grading and marking to the point where I had to throw out a few lesson plans because I didn’t have time for them.
I didn’t consider throwing out the idea of busy-work and warm-up exercises completely, even for the sake of time. Plus, the times when I skipped warm-up exercises, I found the class to be less productive.
Checking for Understanding
I found the best solution was to grade the student’s work in real-time as they did their busy work. I would walk around with my grading book and correct the work of the students as they were doing it. Doing so allowed me to give feedback in the moment and it didn’t require me to eat into the rest of my lesson plan.
Whilst walking around the classroom and marking work, I was able to check the understanding of the students. It became easier to see which students were grasping the material and which were not. I would make notes of the students that were struggling on the one hand, and make note of the things they were struggling with on the other so that if the problem was a class-wide issue I may adjust my lessons in the future--and go over the material again for the benefit of those that didn’t get it.
I was able to make supportive statement, comments and corrections and it didn’t take very much time, so I could then move into the lesson plan I had constructed.
The rubber stamp feedback tool is not a new one, but I started to use it as I walked around the students tables giving feedback. When the students had completed their work, I was able to give it a quick glance and mark it with a rubber stamp it if was of sufficient quality.
I used a happy face stamp so that I may turn it upside down for poor quality work. I would then reiterate the comments and feedback I gave them earlier and explained how they may turn the frown around. I found that the students responded very well to the happy face stamp and that they would work harder to fill their journals with happy faces rather than frowny ones.
Using a rubber stamp did help save a lot of time on my part, and I developed an extra-credit system using sticky notes on the same principle. Students got them for volunteering, participating enthusiastically, and following instructions.
At times, students were also able to apply the sticky notes to their tests in order to gain extra marks. It came to a point where some students were saving up their sticky notes to fill their tests with them so that they only had to complete a minimal amount of the test. At this point, I had the students use the notes in a bid for little goodies and school supplies.
If you are a new teacher and want to provide efficient and timely feedback for your students, then I suggest you try a similar exercise. I found that children up to middle school respond well to it. You may also add your own twist to it and adapt it to suit your teaching style and your students. Even though rubber stamps have been around for a while, I still find them to be an effective feedback tool and incentive for students to work harder, try harder, and volunteer.