is the year's pleasant thing. Don't know who said it - probably in a poem I suppose, but no doubt one of you will know. The whole point of quoting it is that officially we are now into Spring and there is half an inch of snow lying on the grass. The shower has passed and the sun is coming out, so it will be gone in no time. But it is colder than it has been for some time. Interestingly, we chart rainfall and so far this month we have only had half an inch, which explains why the fields are drying up so well. Now we need warm sunshine to kick start the grass into growing.
Now for today's thoughts for you to get your heads round. I read in yesterday's Times (where would I be without it?) that a school has banned teachers from marking work in red ink and said they must use green ink in future as it doesn't present such a negative image to the pupils.
Having been a teacher in a Comprehensive School for some years, I have strong feelings about the marking of pupil's work. First of all, no teacher should EVER return a book to a pupil unmarked, even if the teacher has to sit up all night to do the marking. That, above all other things, presents the most negative image.
Secondly, said marking should ALWAYS be positive, whatever colour it is. I personally think marking is like a written conversation with a pupil. Ticks and/or crosses serve no good purpose at all. If the work demands all ticks, then some really positive comment should be writ large - if the subject is English, then perhaps a suggestion of a book the pupil may like to read - or a suggestion of ways of extending the piece of work. If the subject is more scientific - say maths - then if the answers are wrong there absolutely must be a follow up. Maybe an extra ten minutes at break or after school - something which helps the pupil to understand without drawing attention to his/her inability to get the answer correct.
Often I would write a few questions at the end of a piece of work - and I would expect answers, either written or in a conversation in class. This kind of marking builds up a sense of respect and trust between the teacher and the pupil. Yes, I know teachers are stretched to the limits these days. Good teachers always have been but that is part of the job.
Thirdly, from a parents point of view, parents should keep an eye on how their child's work has been marked. I remember with shame how I never looked at my son's books when he was doing French O Level, assuming that as we were paying heavily for his education he was getting the best. Never assume any such thing.
He did rather badly in his exam and when I looked at his French work books (the subject was taught by the Deputy Head of the School, incidentally) I found that they had never been marked at all. Did I follow it up? No. Should I have done? Yes! School is also a 'conversation' between parents and the staff of the school. Gone are the days when parents never questioned anything.
Fourthly, from a pupil's point of view: I remember Science, a subject which was always pretty much a closed book to me. We had some sort of equations taught in one class and then homework set on the same subject. I had not understood it at all and needless to say, I got the whole homework wrong. I was just marked as wrong, there was no follow up at all, and that was where the sense of failure in that subject set in. I switch off at anything scientific. I am not suggesting that a bit of positive marking might have made me an Atomic Scientist, but it might have helped to make me feel a little less of a failure.
So, to sum up, I personally don't care what colour the marking is in. Maybe keep to black ink is the answer then any impressions the pupil may get from reading the marking are not influenced by colour. The only important thing is to keep all marking POSITIVE and the build up a two-way conversation on the page. That is how to earn the respect of every pupil in the class. However disruptive a child may be, he or she needs to feel that the teacher is trying to help, is trying to bring out the best in them. That is all the matters.