Remember when I said that my job as a TA was “all the good of teaching without the paperwork“? This was uttered in a moment of euphoria about my new job… Now it’s several months later and I’ve grown a lot through the experience and I have learnt. I have learnt that even TA’s have admin and paperwork to get through, and I have learnt that all teachers plough through the administrative side of education without so much as a thank you from anyone.
One of many administrative headaches linked to teaching is marking. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value in feeding back to learners about their work and the importance of knowing what concepts your learners do and don’t understand. But let’s be honest – that pile of unmarked work is magical. It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend ticking sums and making comments, that pile of unmarked work never seems to dissipate. Take our class, for example, every day we do 3 / 4 / 5 pieces of work which requires marking. Times 30 children. That’s between 90 and 150 pieces of new work to be marked on a daily basis. Even if we only spent 2 minutes marking each piece (which is a gross underestimate), that’s a minimum 3 hours of marking a day!
I’m going to be honest, I was that annoying kid who complained when teachers (and later, lecturers) didn’t return work in a timely fashion. I couldn’t understand how it could possibly take them so long to mark my one piece of work! I never stopped and took the time to work out how much work that one teacher was expected to mark. But now that I’m the person sitting on my bed on a Thursday evening marking an never-ending supply of books whilst watching old Grey’s Anatomy re-runs and sipping a glass of white wine, I am starting to appreciate all the extra time my teachers put in for me.
We expect a lot from teachers, and yet we seldom find the time to thank them for all the extra things they do. So tonight I’m raising a glass to all those who spend endless hours marking an infinite amount of work and wishing them just a little bit of magic.