Diary of an NQT: Getting pupil feedback right

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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A difficult year 7 lesson focusing on how pupils should respond to assessment feedback leaves our NQT diarist frustrated...

It’s all beginning to feel a little more normal now. The students know who I am, they wave at me across the playground and the little year 7s trot up to sheepishly say hello.

I think I know more about the students than the other members of staff! Students come to me asking for Miss Something-or-other and I have no idea who they are talking about. I am sure this will come in time and I suppose knowing the young people in my class is a higher priority than knowing the surnames of everyone in the science department.

I would like to say that the marking is slowing down – but it isn’t. I have got much faster at it though!

Oh, the joys of learning questions and learning ladders. I had underestimated how difficult a feedback lesson would be with year 7 though. I always took it for granted (having never taught year 7), that the children would know how to take feedback and respond to it appropriately.

I’d somehow forgotten that there was a reason why all those year 8s, 9s, 10s and 11s knew how to do it – because they were taught at the beginning of year 7!

Couple this error with the fact that two students had failed to hand their book in previously, so their assessments had not been marked, one student was absent for the test in the first place, and that we have a whole department of broken printers – and the result is an NQT flapping and panicking.

I ended up giving the two students something else to do while I frantically tried to mark their assessment while having questions thrown at me from around the classroom. The student who had been absent ended up sitting at my desk reading the assessment off the screen while I tried to get the rest of the class through the feedback...

During the lesson, I found myself feeling frustrated with the students when they each asked me a million questions.

“What does this learning question mean?”

“Shall I turn the page?”

“Shall I use a green pen?”

In hindsight, I know that they actually, honestly didn’t know and I was supposed to be teaching them how to do it, rather than just assuming they already could.

The result was that I had to spend 20 minutes explaining how to respond to marking after assessments. We spent time going through model answers and then filling in their learning ladders and targets.

The kids left looking slightly bemused, but not scarred for life – so that’s a bonus.

It definitely wasn’t my finest teaching moment to date, but I have learnt from it. I have three more year 7 feedback lessons to go and I will make sure they go a lot differently!

Other than this small catastrophe of a lesson, the rest of the week has been fairly smooth. Monday felt like a marathon with the year 6 open evening going on until 9pm. It should not be legal for teachers to be in school for 14 hours straight. We will go insane!

What’s more, I had parents coming to me to ask questions about the school that I had no idea how to answer! I just smiled lots and tried to move the subject on to humanities.

Despite its length, the evening seemed to be a success. My only regret is being dragged into a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sing-off with the year 11 students who had been helping. I just couldn’t help myself – they were trying to sing it and they didn’t know all the words.

They needed to be educated!

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of citizenship, RE and humanities at a school in the Midlands.


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