Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.

Leave a comment

A to (almost) Z of Feedback NOT Marking

All marking is feedback, but not all feedback is marking. Simple.

Build a toolkit of feedback strategies – as you develop the art of feedback, try lots of strategies to find what works for you, your students and your school.

Children need to understand the value of feedback to be able to make use of it effectively and to understand when and how they might receive it.

Don’t expect changing from marking to feedback to be easy, it requires…
Education – educate the school community on how feedback is provided so students and parents understand that written marking isn’t the only way to receive feedback

Errors – exposure to errors in a safe environment is beneficial, celebrate mistakes with students and explore how to correct them. I like to give ‘risk-taker’ commendations for those that share their errors with the class, promoting a sense of achievement in despite of the error. Additionally it builds resilience and works on the concept of growth mindset.

Feedup-feedback-feedforward cycles have changed the way I lesson plan, read more on these here.

Give no marking a try for a week or two or potentially longer, to help you to review the other ways in which you provide feedback to students. Make a conscious effort to look for the impact of different feedback strategies.

Hightlighters – so many uses for highlighters in the provision of feedback, you can use them during live marking, use them identify where work needs review, use them to highlight achieved success criteria or what to do next, use them for dot marking, highlight and improve or whatever else.

Introduce strategies to students. Explain to your students the why and how of each strategy you implement with them to enable them to understand the reasoning behind it and how it will benefit them.

Jot down notes as you assess work to feed-forward into your short, medium and long-term planning.

Knowledge, understanding and application (skills) – effective assessment ought to develop all these elements over time. I find it hard when teachers set targets for students that are only knowledge specific to the current piece of content or topic.

Live feedback, also known as live marking. Simple really, assess and feedback there and then in the lesson. More reading on live feedback here.

Model and scaffold effective feedback to students to help them to peer assess effectively. I start the school year with a few simple tasks that can easily be peer assessed, we peer assess as a class, in small groups and individually until independent. I will start off by providing relevant feedback comments/targets that students can select from and ask them to justify why they selected that comment/target. By Christmas the majority of students can carry out effective peer assessment with limited scaffolding.

Next steps – I find that using next steps promotes high expectations, even when work is complete and the student successful there’s always next steps that can be made to further develop knowledge and application. I praise successes but unless it’s a summative assessment students know to expect to be asked to do something else to their work to make it even better.

Outcomes – always keep these in mind. What do you want students to achieve in the long, medium and short term? How will feedback help students to achieve these outcomes?

Peer assessment can be powerful – creating a feedback friendly classroom is no easy feat. it requires teaching, training and persistence to get students to feedback effectively. The use of ACE and SpACE peer assessment has supported the development of effective peer-to-peer feedback in my classroom.

ACE Peer assessment

Quality over quantity – to reduce the amount of formative and summative assessment and thus quantity of targets students are asked to work on, in my department at KS3 we give assess two formative pieces of work and a summative. The formative tasks students receive constructive feedback on which allow them to create transferable targets that can be applied both in the summative task and the future learning. The summative task provides students with targets the next unit and future learning. At KS4 and 5, we assess 2-3 sets of past paper questions and a test for each topic. Feedback from the PPQs is given via feedback codes and share through whole class feedback, written marking is carried out and whole class feedback takes place on summative tests. Students annotate their work as whole class feedback is provided – making amendments there and then. Students set themselves transferable targets in response.

Research and reading – there’s lots of research and evidence out there on the role and value of feedback in the classroom. Here’s a few pieces to start you off:

The Power of Feedback, John Hattie
Visible Learning: Feedback, John Hattie & Shirley Clarke
Feedback, Education Endowment Foundation

Transferable targets – from my experience to date I feel transferable targets are the most valuable. Ask questions to help students to gain the correct answers but targets require a transferable element to them so there is the opportunity to act on them on the short and medium term.

Statements or questions? When it comes to ‘next steps’ I’m not sure which works best in helping students to progress, a question that helps them to reframe their thinking or a statement that tells them exactly what they need to do. Most of the time I use a mix of both to draw knowledge and understanding out from them.

Throw away your verbal feedback stamps! You do not need to ‘prove’ you are feedback to students verbally. It will be obvious in their work.

Undervalued – we must move away from marking to feedback in our schools to reduce the burden of marking and increase the power of feedback in the classroom.

Verbal feedback is powerful. The power of verbal feedback often goes unseen, you may not see direct evidence of verbal feedback in books or classwork however if you talk to students they can explain how verbal feedback has helped them. It’s timely and can have immediate impact, don’t try evidencing it but instead work on embedding it.

Whole class feedback is nothing new, but how we approach it has changed. Many teachers now use crib sheets to guide the provision of whole class feedback. For more information and examples check out this post of examples.

X – not even going to try

You can’t evidence all feedback and nor should you have to. The evidence is in the progress made by students.

Z – again not going to try

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Best wishes,

1 Comment

Mrs Humanities shares… A peek inside my department handbook

Recently I’ve had a lot of requests for copies of my department handbook. Is there a sudden surge in people being asked to create them or is it just the time of year that people are updating those they already possess? Hrm?

Anyway, due to it being a school document that I have partly created during the school day I don’t feel I have the right to share it. Therefore instead, I will explain what mine consists of along with a few screenshots. I hope that helps those of you that are creating or updating yours, but please do not ask me for a copy as I will not be able to send it to you I’m afraid. However, I have created a template that you may wish to make use of, find it here.


  1. Academic Statement
  2. Department Vision
  3. Department Staffing – roles and responsibilities
  4. Teaching load – who’s teaching what
  5. Other responsibilities – e.g. extra-curricular, extended essays etc.
  6. Curriculum – break down of KS3 (MYP), KS4 (GCSE) and KS5 (IB)
  7. Assessed work expectations
  8. Lesson Observations – expectations and responsibilities
  9. Lesson Planning – expectations for teaching and learning over time
  10. Feedback and Assessment – expectations and strategies
  11. Student Assessment for Learning – outline of the AfL sheets we use with students
  12. Revision and Exams
  13. Reports
  14. Behaviour and rewards
  15. Trips and Fieldwork
  16. Day-to-Day housekeeping

I’ve learnt a thing or two this year which means I’ve put a bit more in, with the aim of making things explicitly clear to aid consistency and professional development.

Academic Statement and Department Vision

These two pieces layout the basis of what it means to teach our subject, the former, the academic statement, seeks to set out the role of Geography.

Why is it worth studying?
What value does it have?
What do we want students to take away from their geographical studies over the 3, 5 or 7 years in which they study it?

The latter, the department vision is then an outline of how we as a department are going to achieve the above and how our department fits into the whole school vision and development plan.

How will we make Geography a subject worth studying?
How will we demonstrate its value in the curriculum and beyond?
How will our department contribute to the whole school vision?
How will our department contribute to the school's development?

I believe this section needs the buy in of all staff. During my first year here, I sat down with those in my department to create both of these. I had my ideas, but I wanted to have their input too. Since then I’ve had a new member of staff join the department each year due to the progression of others and I’ve failed in creating the statement and vision collectively.

This September we’ve two new members of staff joining the department, meaning a fresh start really as the other remaining member of staff joined us this academic year. My plan for our CPD day in September then is to sit down together and create a new academic statement and department vision as a collective. I believe it’s important for everyone to feel they have a contribution to make to the success of the department and a say in how we do it. I want us all to be aiming for the same thing and to be able to see where we are going together collectively.

Additionally, I know my vision has changed since I started as subject leader 3 years ago. These statements need to reflect the developments in my geographical knowledge, practice and general pedagogy as well as whole school changes.

Department Staffing, Teaching Load and Other Responsibilities

What this section includes is quite self explanatory really.

The staffing table outlines the position each person plays in the department, the responsibilities of their role and their teaching load. This is to enable staff to seek support and guidance from the right people, it’s to help teachers collaborate across year groups and key stages and to allow staff to identify their strengths in the provision of other responsibilities e.g. trainee mentors, extra-curricular, field-trips etc.


This section breaks down the curriculum by key stage, providing vital information about the topics and specifications studied, the examinations undertaken and the options selected.

This section also refers the user to important documents such as the exam specifications, the programme of learning for each key stage and the assessment for learning booklets and documents.

Assessed work expectations

We don’t mark general classwork at GCSE and IB, just past paper questions which are undertaken throughout a topic. This equates to 1 set of PPQs every 2-3 weeks. This is how we assess student’s application of knowledge. In lessons we then use assessment for learning strategies to check for understanding.

For consistency, expectations for assessed work are set out explicitly in the handbook.

This year I’m introducing a change to our testing procedures. Rather than giving end of topic tests at the end topic, students will not sit the test for a minimum of 2 weeks after they have finished it. Although I am considering making it so that end of topic tests are done at the end of the next topic, however I’d like input from my ‘new’ department and line manager on this before any final decisions are made.

Lesson Observations

This section merely outlines what should and what doesn’t need to be provided for a formal or informal lesson observation in accordance with the whole school policy. It also directs staff to lesson observation documents such as the observation feedback form, 5 minute lesson plan etc.

Lesson Planning

Really this section should be called learning planning, but I don’t like how it sounds so I’ve stuck to lesson planning.

It is something I’ve added this year for consistency and is an outline of what should be evident in teaching and learning over time. It would not be expected to see evidence of all of this in a lesson observation, nor evident just in books.

Instead sources of evidence would include discussions with staff, classwork, homework, lesson resources, assessment for/of learning, data, conversations with students, collaborative planning, units of inquiry, etc.

Feedback and Assessment

This section discusses the importance of feedback and assessment for/of learning in all its forms. Here staff are referred to the Power of Feedback document for further reading for the logic and evidence for the strategies outlined.

This section then provides a range of feedback strategies that staff have the autonomy to mix and match providing that students receive regular feedback from the teacher or peers to enable them to develop and progress.

More on the strategies that make up our Feedback NOT Marking ‘policy’ here.

Student Assessment for Learning

In supporting our students to become independent learners, we use assessment for learning sheets at KS3 and booklets at KS4 & 5. These enable students to track their progress along with set and track their personal targets.

This section aids the teacher in explaining to students how to use their AfL documents.

The remainder of the handbook

The remaining sections are just basic details that outline where to go for information on and resources for revision, exams and reports

There’s a bit that outlines our departmental approach to rewards and behaviour. There’s an outline of responsibilities for trips and fieldwork and some general day-to-day information that maybe of interest to new members of staff.

I hope this is of use.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #5

Wow, what happened to that gained time after my GCSE and IB groups left? This term has been hectic so there’s been a lack of posts this month. But here’s a small one with my most recent twitter highlights. You’ll notice a bit of a theme with the geography highlights.

Hope you find something of use!



Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one…. well it’s about me *chuckles*

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

My book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is now released.Click the image to find out more about it.

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #4

Wow, this term has started with chaos; stomach bug, camps, interdisciplinary activities and trips, end of year exams to mark…. as a result I’ve not posted a blog since the end of May. So I thought I’d start with Twitter Highlights number 4, I’ve added a few extra ones in since I’ve missed two weeks.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.



Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one just made me chuckle

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, so scared for the 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… Twitter Highlights #3



Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #2

In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.

This here is the second of my twitter highlight posts.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.



Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, so scared for the 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #1

In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It’s gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.

This here is the first of my twitter highlight posts.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.



Other Subjects


Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

Enjoy the long weekend!

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!

Leave a comment

Mrs Humanities shares… 5 highlights from EduTwitter

I had a brain wave this morning. You know the kind you have and then think why hadn’t I thought of that before?!

It’s a simple idea really, but goes a long way to highlighting the amazing work being done and shared via twitter for those of you that don’t make use of it for CPD.

For me, Twitter has had a huge impact on my professional practice from inspiring lesson resources to ideas for supporting colleagues, there’s so much you can take away from EduTwitter (see my A-Z of EduTwitter for more info). So here it is, my simple idea is to share 5 tweets that have inspired or interested me each week that I think others may find of use.

Now I just need to work out which day is best to publish? Monday, Friday or Sunday? Hrm… I’ll have a think and set it up from the first week of the next term.

For now, here’s 5 tweets that I think might be of use or inspiration to others:

Knowledge Organisers for Religious Studies GCSE from @MrSmithRS

Geography Teaching Resources from @MrTomlinsonGeog

Teaching resources to support learners with this years RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition from @KCGeographies

Medicine through the Ages Revision Rap from a colleague of @HistTeach55

Finally, this fun little number on workload and wellbeing from @carpool4school1 featuring @RossMcGill.

Oh and don’t forget there are almost 1000 ideas over on Magpied Pedagogy.

Is bringing useful tweets to you a good idea? Let me know your thoughts.

1 Comment

Mrs Humanities explores… how to help teachers be #PeriodProud

I must admit that this isn’t a post I ever thought I would write but my tweet last week had an unexpected response.

You see, I finally took a leap of faith and shared how much I hate having period pains whilst teaching.

I had so many responses, with a large number of female teachers sharing easily avoidable experiences if there was greater understanding and acceptance in the workplace.

When my monthly friend arrives, I get awful pains and I find it incredibly awkward and pretty challenging to carry on when all I want to do is roll up in a ball and scream or cry with sheer pain. And despite the pain, I power through with determination and try to get to the end of the lesson so I can take 5 minutes to recoup.

On occasions I’ve had to step inside my somewhat rather tight classroom cupboard and apply a heat pack, scramble for tablets in my bag and recoil through a cramp. Then I’ve heard a student ask “Where’s Mrs H?” and I pop out of the cupboard with a smile and say “I’m just in the cupboard” and the kids are none the wiser.

More recently though, the heat pack hasn’t be sufficient enough and I’ve had to borrow a hot water bottle from the school nurse. Even in a girls school I find it awkward having to hold a hot water bottle at the same time as trying to teach, all whilst my insides continue to twist and wrangle and squeeze themselves silly.

And my monthly experiences aren’t even the worst of them. In response to my tweet I received over 400 responses from female teachers of all ages. They shared their stories from period pains to accidental leaks, there were discussions of the symptoms of endometriosis to those associated with the menopause along with many other conditions or situations that make the monthly cycle a whole lot worse.

I feel ashamed that there has been many an occasion I’ve gone to write a tweet about period pains and each time I’ve got too embarrassed and deleted it. However it’s such a natural process, why are we so scared to discuss it?

We might well teach about menstruation yet as a society we still seem to hide and shy away from discussing periods and the like. It’s a shame that periods still seem to be such a taboo subject, even though at times our periods can cause great discomfort for both teachers and learners.

The Discomfort

When it comes to periods, for some the discomfort comes in the form of spasms of pain, for others it’s being unable to make it to the toilet throughout the day, and then there are those that experience such heavy flows that they experience regular paranoia associated with leaks.

Along side menstruation, there can be the symptoms of PMS/PMT too. I for one find that even whilst I’m on anti-depressants for up to 10 days before my period arrives I can become an emotional wreck. One minute my emotions can be soaring high, the next they can be diving into the depths of despair. Try handling that in the classroom with 30 odd teenagers looking at you. It’s not easy.

Further more it’s also not easy to talk about it with managers and colleagues, especially with male colleagues, mention periods and often they just want the conversation over with as quickly as possible however this could just be my experience.

On that note however I did once have a male colleague that dealt extremely well with me when I burst into the staff room in tears due to the pain, needing someone to cover me and painkillers to which he supplied some incredibly powerful pain relief (thank you Nigel M).

No Time for the Loo

One of the things that cropped up numerous times in the replies was the number of female teachers and school leaders that said they fail to make it to the toilet throughout the school day, whether it’s the time of the month or not. This can cause multiple issues due to bacterial growth such as urinary tract infections, thrush and cystitis, which could potentially lead to time off of work and disruption to learning. We must make time to go.

Breaking the Taboo

After I started to write this piece I started looking into period policies and came across this really interesting Ted Talk on the topic along with the links below.

Menstrual leave: a workplace reform to finally banish the period taboo?

Should The UK Implement a Paid Period Leave Into Work Policies? 

Period Power: Periods in the Workplace

I also think this might be a useful read:

Now I foresee a number of issues with the implementation of ‘period policies’ in schools, however I do think it’s really important that we start talking about the impacts of menstruation on our bodies. By doing so we can create a better working environment to support female workers with menstrual suffering.

How exactly we go about that on a large scale I’m unsure but I certainly believe there are small things that can be done to support female staff in schools and things we can do for ourselves too.

School leaders could:

  • Allow staff to leave the classroom between lessons to take a toilet break.
  • Create a request for support system, so that if a teacher needs to leave the room to deal with menstruation they can do so discreetly whilst another member of staff supervises for a short period of time.
  • Provide hot water bottles for staff (and students) and allow use of them in the classroom.
  • Understand that during this time some teachers may have to take to sitting down rather than wandering and interacting with students as they teach.
  • Ensure there are sufficient toilets for the number of staff (my last school had 1 toilet for about 17 members of staff).

As individuals:

  • Ensure you designate time to go to the toilet. If you have a duty, let someone know you’ll be a few minutes late or ask someone to cover for five minutes. If student’s need to see you, pop a “be right back” notice on the door. Do what you have to do to maintain your health and hygiene.
  • If you are prone to issues, discuss it with your line manager or a colleague that may be able to support you e.g. someone that could cover you for five minutes in between lessons.
  • Be prepared, keep a supply of tablets, heat patches and other comforts (I mean chocolate) in a safe and secure location e.g. a drawers, cupboard or staff room.
  • Stop just saying “it’s just my period”, accept that it can be troublesome, you might need to step away from the classroom for five minutes or more to recoup and for some that a sick day maybe required to deal with the symptoms.

I must admit, I even had trouble writing this post and after some encouragement I returned to it to adapt and finish. I hope I haven’t put off any readers in writing on such a female topic and instead perhaps it has opened the eyes of some teachers or school leaders as to what their colleagues maybe experiencing.

Feel free to add your comments on the topic and take a moment to read this poem of solidarity by @honeypisquared.

Best wishes,

1 Comment

Request – Word Cloud Contribution

I have an awesome new project in progress and I’m currently putting together a little contribution from others – a word cloud.

I’d love it if you would take less than two minutes to submit the first words that come to mind when you think of feedback and marking.

Add your contributions to the form below