The other day I noticed the fun I experienced marking students’ work when I chose to remain open, relaxed and connected to what they were learning. I opened myself up to see beyond what the curriculum requirements were, and was instead assessing the level of connection I made with each student.
For as long as I can remember I had always thought marking needed to be done quickly and was a burden on my teaching time. The piles were never-ending and the pace with which marking was done was fast, with little regard for the student and their work. Darting around the classroom in order to mark the work before I began another set of teaching instructions felt like the norm.
The levels of exhaustion I experienced made me feel racy and there was no connection with the students or with their work. I gave little consideration to how I could support them to go to the next stage of learning, or to consolidate their current levels of learning.
The teaching phase was fun and by far the most enjoyable stage. I would introduce the topic and get the ball rolling with practical examples and engage the children in each step. The children would share and laugh whilst learning. Everyone was focused and the learning was meaningful, relevant and there was a sense of ease in which this was done. Every lesson was simple and the children were part of the teaching rather than doing all the learning. This unfortunately was lost once I moved to the marking mode. I could feel my relaxed and open body turn into a hard machine, ready to race through the assembly line of paper marking.
When I made the choice to stop and connect more to the steady pace in which I was teaching, I noticed there was no need to go into the overwhelm of what the idea of assessing and marking brings to teaching.
The playful interactions that took place with the simple daily over the shoulder marking made me realise how much the students enjoyed the ‘one to one’ connection they were receiving. Every interaction with a child was simple and varied, according to what they needed:
A supportive hand on the shoulder…
A playful gentle tap on the head …
A tender touch of the hand…
A knowing glance of ‘you’ve got it’…
A cheeky wink to say… yep! …. You’re on the right track.
With this way of marking their work came a deeper level of understanding about how the children crave this connection and wait patiently for their turn. I could feel them nuzzle into their chairs, brushing gently past my arms as I began to mark. Their eyes were open and engaged in what I had to share. They talked more and their voices had a giggling tone that invited more connection. They were not disappointed or hard on themselves if they didn’t fully understand the teaching concept, as they knew the support was always there.
Marking and assessing can be a task that overwhelms and overloads but with that comes a fall in the quality of connection that the children are clearly receptive and open to.
Assessing how to connect to a student is what true marking is about. When we assess what is needed at each moment the marking becomes simple, fun and straightforward.
By Anonymous, Teacher, Mentoring Teacher and Program Facilitator, Australia
The power of relationship in the classroom
Circle time: an opportunity for connection and expression
Education, Schools & Teaching our Kids: ‘Quality of Presence’ in the Classroom
Teachers are Gold
Connection is a solid foundation and what a gorgeous sharing of what it is to turn a sometimes mundane task into one that has people at the centre.
And yet there is so much resistance to take connection to another level in schools due to the fear mongering, Crazy, and it makes no sense. The results would be worth documenting and surprise many I’m sure if teachers stepped back, and remembered the purpose of education and what they themselves were able to offer without all the knowledge stuff.
Our quality of connection with each other really does nourish and support us to live and express our potential.
You have highlighted so beautifully how powerful it is from us to bring connection to whatever we are doing, as through this we are able to truly confirm the truth in each other. In this instance through your connection with each child not only have you confirmed their worth but also confirmed what was true of their expression, deepening their connection to knowing what feels true and what does not, as they continue to confidently grow expressing who they are.
Making the lessons about the connection first and the subject matter second is the way forward. We all have to learn certain things to get through life but at the end of the day it is how we are taught which will support us to have a positive relationship with learning new things. If we start to think we cannot do something and switch off as a young child this will impact on our lives until the day we die, and after all why go through life believing we are less just because we did not understand a subject at school.
“Assessing how to connect to a student is what true marking is about. When we assess what is needed at each moment the marking becomes simple, fun and straightforward.” Really what you are saying is when we come from our heart and connect to universal wisdom we know naturally what needs to be done next. – teaching from the heart is a whole other level.
It really is amazing to see and feel the difference in our attitudes and way of being when we connect to who we are and move with this purpose. Life becomes so simple and a real sense of joy is noted and expressed too. How amazing it is to reflect this to children and adults as this offers so much to explore and to the learn from too.
Reading this you can already feel the quality in which the marking is done and the children enjoying the connection – this is what makes learning fun.
How precious to have a teacher who is so connected.
Connecting with children as the persons they are behind what we are marking, humanises our teaching and gives sense to that activity. This is, as well as every interaction we have with children, an opportunity to open the doors to their willingness to learn.
We are social beings and thrive on connection with one another. It makes absolute sense that you found marking fun and energising when you connected with the children and in contrast you were drained and exhausted when you just focused on the activity of marking. We are built to be connected in love always.
The importance of connecting with our students may likewise be applied to the whole of life.
In connection with ourselves we are observing life and may bring much understanding and needed wisdom to support others.. When we are not in connection, we are at the mercy of life.
This is so refreshing to read and the hear how children are been giving the opportunity to really be connected with and understood. It makes complete sense the children crave this way of being taught because when you look around and see the way the system is set up teachers are given no room to have these connections. It has become all about numbers and reaching targets so that they pass the government requirements and that fact that there are these little beings that need nurturing and support is totally not in the equation. Each child is different also so we need to be able to adapt and connect to what is needed in each moment, not follow a structure that is not even truly about the kids.
Words of gold in this blog – when there is seemingly a massive task ahead of us – connection to ourselves and others is key. ‘Many hands make light work’ is a saying but what if you’ve only got your own hands? Working as a waitress I find that many eye connections and true smiles make work very light.
Anonymous, this is lovely to read, I can feel how we can make anything about connection and that rushing through tasks makes us exhausted and serves no-one, it is very lovely for your pupil to have his time to connect with you and I have found in my own work that if I let go of the racing trying to get things done on time and instead go at my natural pace and make my work about connecting to people then there is a flow and a joy and the work naturally gets done.
Assessing and marking can be a tedious task if done with a preconceived idea of the end result, However, when we make it about connection first there is such a lightness and flow to what has to be done that is actually joyous and regenerating as we truly enrich other’s lives.
When we make it about connection first there is no right or wrong just expanding our connections and the learning then flows through that. If we made this the purpose of our education system the focus would become the development and support for each child to explore their true potential without the constraints of a narrow assessment based system which dictates what needs to be learned and how it needs to be presented to achieve the necessary grades to be deemed a ‘success’.
I love the fun, ease and connection you brought back to how you assessed and marked the children. Education should always be about supporting the student’s connection and ability to express their own inner wisdom and awareness. I know from my personal experience of being at the receiving end of the education system that anything less than the care and connection you describe here encourages the exact opposite.
I have been inspired by this blog and used this technique time and time again and the connection does make a difference to the final grades. Could it be possible that tests are not the area of discontent but the frustration in how we are administering them?
Thank you for a wonderful sharing with such loving care for with what you share with the children. I can truly appreciate the foundation this offers them to be open to exploring learning, because there is nothing telling them they are in-correct or comparing their understanding to another’s. They are being seen and appreciated for who they are in the essence and not what they can produce that fits an ideal or belief of ‘average performance and grades’. Who wants to be held as ‘average’, this is so stifling and limiting for developing true expression.
This is such a great point Anonymous. Every part of the day or process requires equally loving attention to be with it. I discovered the same with having to have new clients sign a consent form for the insurance and Practitioners Association I am with. This is all part of the process and it works very well to honour and appreciate this more ‘admin’ type aspect as much as what happens in the healing room – every moment is healing.
When in connection everything is given to us, no need to stress or push through just the surrendering of our bodies to the what is.
As with all tasks and movements in life, if we make teaching and marking about the people and the space first, all else is taken care of. If we get swept up in the motion of the task we are lost.
Connection is vital in all relationships. Thank you for the insight that when something is not fun and flowing with ease, it is possible that the connection is missing. And we can always choose to stop, reassess, deepen our understanding and go again, as in this blog.
It is the connection that children seek, when they feel this connection they respond so openly and honestly. As parents we truly need to stop and connect to the children to allow them to open up an express in their truth.
Very true and for adults and children alike, connection enables far greater understanding and inspiration for others to connect to their inner most truth and to live this.
Hi Shirley-Ann. People are indeed longing for touch, for love as they miss feeling it and giving it to themselves. And this is so easy to do, to just give yourself a hug. Crazy but it works.
There are always parts of our jobs we do not like and go into auto pilot to do it. It is beautiful to see how the choice to make connection the most important things you can make these parts we did not like into something very enjoyable. I also feel often we take on from others or society what is to be enjoyed about a job and what not. Instead of feeling for ourselves if this is true for us. Like even as not being a teacher I had a sense of that marking is not the most loved part of the job yet I never stopped and considered if this is true!
Lovely. So marking is just a good excuse to connect with pupils. And definitely not about whether they got it right or wrong.
Anonymous, this is lovely to read, working part time in a classroom I can feel how it is so easy to rush from one thing to the next without connecting with the children and for the day to be all about getting things done rather than connecting with the children. I too notice how the children love the one on one time, it feels lovely being playful and open to what they would like to share with me and to allow the space and time for the children to be able to do this.
This is such a huge lesson in how we approach every aspect of life. How open are we and how much space do we allow for life to lovingly unfold.
Connection is SO important…. With everything, and everyone, as we know…. With children … it is vital
What a wonderful sharing around how different one can make those more mundane tasks in a job, feel more accepting and even loving, which is sometimes a very hard thing to do. But what you have shared is that it was all about your connection and that quality you brought to all that you do.
‘ I opened myself up to see beyond what the curriculum requirements were, and was instead assessing the level of connection I made with each student.’ This line is relevant to all that we do – seeing beyond what is being asked of us on a practical level and going beyond to make connections.
The children in a class can teach us so much about how they learn and when we connect with them and make it fun then the sharing opens everyone up to a deeper understanding.
Your old attitude to marking reminds me of mine with certain aspects of my life. What’s interesting about it is that when I am in it I will justify thinking this way: that something doesn’t warrant my attention and needs to be done in as little time as possible to negate the negative effects of having to do it. I know I am still in this attitude as I am trying to persuade myself to see the positives of say getting stuck in commuter traffic when I could be doing paperwork that needs doing.
But just as a start I can begin with being present and get to feel what there is to feel in those moments when I am taken away from my preferred plan of action that is all time related (i.e. got to finish that by x time, get to B at x time etc.) Already I feel the Magic of God can come alive whereas now I am choosing to be ruled by my own timetable that is arbitrary even though, when I am really in the thick of this attitude, i will justify why I need to get x done by x deadline that I will say is imposed on my by work requirements etc. There is a lot of room to play with this being not doing. It’s not a romanticized watching the clouds float by on a lazy summer afternoon way of living but an important mastery of another way of living which is being in motion.
This blog goes to show how we can compartmentalise life such as work, home etc but even within the ‘work’ box we can relate to the various aspects of our work in different ways. But from experience these compartments are not separate but interconnected. Appreciating our quality in one aspect can and does affect and flow into all others.
Anonymous, this moved me very deeply, I could feel how children are very sensitive and trusting, open to life and the world. Getting marks back is a big deal and it can impinge on their self worth, especially if children have learnt to rely on the external feedback in life to give them a sense of their value and who they are. But when they are considered and connected to, they feel this, met for who they are and it sinks in very deeply. Its all connecting and ‘marking’ for the first time is seen in a whole new light, you have shown me greater appreciation how everything affects everyone…’marking’ now has a whole new meaning. Great inspiration you are anonymous!
You raise a great point Karoline. When the focus is on the marks, they become hugely significant and they can be confused as self worth.
This can be devastating. However connection with the child communicates that worth is never in question. And the marks can be seen for what they are: simply flagging for everyone what still needs to be practiced and built on.
They couldn’t hold back the joy that is offered to them each day in learning. A far cry from my own schooling experience. An inspiring teacher with so much to offer!
It’s the joy of your openness and playful way of connecting with each child Anonymous that shows how important it is for us all to simply enjoy and love sharing and interacting from our own connection. What happens thereafter is truly amazing for not only the education system but the world as a whole.
Thank you for sharing this it is so important that we are always connecting before we mark or look at what we do. It is so important we connect with eachother in order to than have everything else in life.
You have nailed true, simple, relevant and meaningful assessing and marking Anonymous;
“Assessing how to connect to a student is what true marking is about. When we assess what is needed at each moment the marking becomes simple, fun and straightforward”.
Encouraging someone that they are ‘on the right track’ is so supportive rather than always pointing out where they are getting things wrong.