Just a quick post to revisit my experience marking students work. Just before I have to do a new batch of marking I asked the tutor who was double marking my marks how she felt I faired.
She responded by basically telling me that for most of my marking I was spot on, that I was fair and valid in my marks. With a couple of students she said I was slightly harsh so there were some changes she made but she said she could tell where I was gaining the marking experience and understanding what work garnered the Pass, Merit and Distinction. So even though it took me roughly 2 hours per students (marking 2 Units) I know it was worth taking that time and even going back between the students work at times to compare.
I asked about the feedback which I had struggled with as we were told we were not allowed to write too much but had to give it verbally as we cannot ‘tell’ the students what to do. This linked back to the notes I had written and she did respond that it can be tricky as we need to explain the evidence (or lack of it) without as I said ‘telling’ them exactly what needs to be done to Pass or improve which was what I struggled with. Giving feedback verbally I had no issues with and we were allowed to give students more extensive lists and notes on their work, we just couldn’t on the official marking sheet.
Overall I was glad that the teacher felt my marking was valid and was glad to see that most of the students when it came to re-marking had improved their grade.
With only two weeks left before I jet off on a two-week holiday which is shortly followed by a two-week Easter Break the stress is well and truly building.
Due to the holiday, I’ve had to get a lot of work done before I go and I have found that having to write an essay, start a research project, still create lesson plans which of three have been observations and work at the weekends has pushed me to breaking point. What hasn’t been helpful is the delays in getting feedback back from my observations, I’ve become quite quick at reflecting and would not typically worry but I am behind on writing two reflections now due to the lack of feedback and when I have another one this coming Monday that will place me with three 1000 word reflections to do, and a 1000 word summary reflection before the 25th March just so I don’t have to worry about it when I return as I have a conference paper to write too!
Oh and I need to start looking for a job really…
Its stressful and apart from working late into the night I don’t really know what else to do. I’ve been trying to still have ‘me’ time just so I don’t burn out, so far that seems to help, making sure I stop work roughly between 9-10 pm (depending on what time I need to be up the next day) and reading a chapter of Harry Potter (I’m odd to Orlando and wanted to get them read again) but then I feel bad for not doing work… it’s a complete catch 22 situation.
However if I burn out I’m no use to myself so slow and steady is the way to go… its almost over.
As of today I have two observations left to complete my required 9 observations as part of my PGCE, this week I had two including a joint observation which resulted in my first grade 3 mark. I’ve been consistently a grade 2 (with a single grade 1) throughout this process and getting this grade 3 when I thought things were getting better was quite a hit to my confidence.
I know that we are not supposed to see observations as ‘progress’ but rather a snippet into our teaching practices but it can’t be helped but to want to improve and getting a 3 so close to the end is pretty devastating.
I know that the class I had are difficult and I know that the observer is a harsh but fair observer but it was still hard to get that ‘requires improvement’ grade. Deep down I know that I do have areas that do require improvement (especially with this class) and I know not to take it to heart that I got that rating because things in that class could have been better and to have been given a ‘good’ I might not necessarily have learnt but it was still hard to hear that grade 3… and I am still upset about it.
I have been trying with that group quite a lot and I have seen improvement but the observer doesn’t see that and I think that is something I do not like about the observation process. The observer only sees that one hour from that one class and does not see that improvements that have been made, they don’t know what a nightmare of a class they could have been and that the fact you can get them to sit and pay attention at all is an improvement – sure there is still improvements to be made if you compare them to any other class but for this class this is their ‘good’.
I know requires improvement isn’t supposed to be a negative outcome, it is all about improving but with the stress I am currently feeling it was hard not to see it as a “you’re s**t” and that the effort I have been putting in to get this class under control isn’t reflected in the observation at all was also really hard to swallow. Obviously, I need to look at the positives, take those ‘requires improvements’ and improve and I guess in a way prove to that observer that I can do it because deep down I know I can myself!