4 Top Tips to Minimise Marking Time

Marking homework and other assignments often takes up a fair amount of time, whether you’ve only just started teaching or you’ve been doing it for years. It is important to provide helpful feedback that lets your pupils know what is expected of them, but it can be time-consuming and stressful.

We’ve put together four short tips to help make sure you don’t spend too much time on marking.

  1. Don’t hand out Grades if you don’t need to

Not everything needs to be graded. People have a tendency to skip through any comments to just see the grade at the end, so if it doesn’t need grading, don’t add one in. It will also make your class more likely to read the comments you have made!

  1. Mark, but don’t correct, careless mistakes

By simply circling careless grammar and spelling mistakes instead of correcting them, you save yourself a little time and also highlight to the individual that something is amiss with their word/sentence structure etc. You can then perhaps set some time aside in the lesson to address these mistakes; if they are a reoccurring problem.

  1. Switch up the pens!

If you find you’re having difficulty with the style of pen you use, try switching to a different one. Some teachers prefer to use a fountain pen or a highlighter to make their marking stand out against the others, but if a plain ball point does the job and does it more quickly, then that is the way to go. Although do check the school policy beforehand regarding the use of different pens.

  1. Shorten your praise – but don’t hold back!

Make yourself a key of ‘feedback’; something simple like a set of smiley faces. Your students will know they have done well, without you having to spell it out for them. It saves precious seconds of marking time but still gives well-deserved praise when required.

Teacher Hacks – Top Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs a hand every now and then. To keep teachers and support staff up to date with the latest hints and tips on teaching, we’ve listed a few of our favourite ‘hacks’ that will help you in the classroom.

  1. Keep it Down

There are noise recognising apps you can install on your phone which sound an alarm when the decibel level goes over a certain amount. If your kids can get excited on occasion, this is a good way of reminding them to keep quiet during lessons.

  1. Prevent Early Finishers from Becoming Class Clowns

Having an ‘I’m Done!’ cup full of extra tasks for early finishers will prevent them from getting bored and trying to distract their classmates. Simple tasks like ‘practice your spellings’ or ‘read a poem from the poems book’ will keep their minds occupied.

  1. Hand Signals Help to Prevent Disruptions

SONY DSCSometimes your kids need a drink, or will want to use the toilet. Creating a series of hand signals designed to prevent disruption will help keep the peace during quiet time. They don’t have to be seriously complicated, but they need to be clear. If you want, you could even incorporate a bit of sign language into your hand signals to keep the learning going.

  1. Home-Made Homework Tray

If you need a quick fix homework tray, try using a simple foil baking tray decorated with some coloured paper. It works and it shows your pupils the power of recycling!

  1. Pencil Dispenser for the Disorganised

Some kids will never remember to bring a pencil. An old straw dispenser will double up as a pencil dispenser for when your pupils forget to bring their stationary. If you want to keep tabs on the number of pencils you have loaned out, attach a coloured strip to the base of each pencil.

Tips for new ESL Teachers

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL Teachers) can be a tough road to take, but it is incredibly rewarding in the end. We’ve put together a few top tips for keeping yourself and your pupils on track!

Slow and Steady

In some sessions, less is more. Don’t try to cram too many lessons into one session. What you will most likely end up doing is frustrating yourself and confusing your students. Most concepts need to be easy for students, particularly young students, to digest. Break the information up into more manageable pieces instead of trying to get ahead of yourself.

Remember to Take a Back Seat

It can be tempting for you to hover at the sides of your students to make sure they are following all your instructions, but this can be stifling. Sometimes it is a good idea to step back and let them make their own path. They might make mistakes but these can be rectified and built upon. Remember that it is not in the end result, but in the journey that you learn the most.

Nobody is Perfect

badge-1093968_960_720As in any classroom, you as the teacher are bound to get some things wrong. What is important is that you learn from your mistakes, bank them in your mind and move on from them. Don’t pore over them for hours on end, trying to figure out what you did wrong and why. Learn from them going forwards.

It isn’t always easy, whether you’re an ESL Teacher, a Teaching Assistant or a Substitute Teacher, so it is important not to get too caught up in things. Sometimes you need to take a step back and re-think. It will not do you or your students any favours to barrel in and try to solve all problems at once. Give it time!

Tips For your first PGCE Observation

tick-300x296When it comes to your first PGCE observation as a teacher in training, it is important to remember that the appraising tutor has probably seen hundreds of lessons of the same type, so the chances are that at least 10% of those lessons were complete disasters, so they’re prepared for absolutely anything to happen.

The point of these appraisals is to help you build upon existing traits and to help improve upon your weaker teaching points so that you can grow and learn as a teacher in your own right.

These tutors are not here to assess your ability; they are merely there to help you develop your own skills as a fully fledged teacher.

Know your subject well as many teachers in training might try out an entirely new subject in order to impress the tutor; however this can lead to unplanned detours as children will react in ways that you often won’t expect. Make copies of everything; the lesson plan, resources, work sheets etc. so that you can give them to your support staff as well as have a few spares where needed.

All in all it is important to relax and stay calm. These tutors are here to assess your ability to adapt, especially when things don’t quite go as planned. Enjoy it and remember that the most crucial thing is to make sure your pupils are learning!

Be Engaging and Exciting

At Red Box Teachers we understand how important education is to our children. Children can often resent going to school and hold this resentment throughout their adult education. Therefore, we need to ensure that school is a supportive and fun environment to learn in from the beginning.

fun learningAll children learn at different rates so teachers need to ensure that each level of learning is clear, exciting and engaging. We can often remember more information if we link it to an interesting memory or if we have actively engaged in that memory of learning.

Using a variety of different activities will help you to understand how each child learns and it will also break up the day into more interesting and engaging sections. Try to include stimuli that the children can relate to e.g. a cool cartoon character or a character from a famous book. Creating a story with your lessons lead the children down an action packed journey of fun and learning.

Remember it is not just the end result that counts!

Tips on Your First Day at School – Week 1

Your first day at a new school can be daunting, for both new teachers and new students, but there are a few important things to remember on your first day which will help you to make a good first impression with your students, and may also help you out in the long run too!

Be Flexible

flexibleWe all know teaching can be very unpredictable, but it is still important to plan well for your first set of lessons. Remember that much like any other social group, children base a lot on their first impressions of someone. If you make a memorable, engaging first lesson, your students will react to you more willingly and will learn more in the process.

However it is also important to remember that first lessons may not always turn out exactly as planned. It is important to be able to adapt to these situations and turn them out to your advantage.

Let Them Know About You

cake-sliceIf you introduce yourself using only your name, your children will find it harder to connect with you as a person. Try creating a fun game where you say a few things about yourself, perhaps foods you enjoyed as a child or a funny memory, and then invite the children to in turn, say a little bit about themselves.

Try not to spend too long about this, as you can easily get distracted, ten minutes at the start of the lesson is perfect. It starts building an important bond with your children; one of an interesting mentor as opposed to an adult who will talk at them and not to them, for hours on end.

At Red Box we are dedicated to joining qualified supply teachers and teaching assistants to schools within their local area. Join Red Box now for regular adverts for schools in your area!

Top Tips for Writing a CV

When applying for a new teaching job, it is important to make a good first impression by dressing to suit the tone of the school you are applying to when attending any interviews. However most prospective employers will form an opinion of you based on how well you present your CV.

It can be easy to get overenthusiastic and want to list the extensive amount of experience you may have on your CV, but this can discourage prospective employers and they may not take you on due to you being ‘overqualified’. Some things to keep in mind when writing a CV are;


Layout is incredibly important with a CV; it needs to be straight, clear and to the point. Use a plain font that is easy to read, but does not stand out, and never put pictures on the front of a CV as it doesn’t add anything to your CV. It is also important to put your most recent experiences first, and to make sure that you double check your grammar and spelling.

Recent and Relevant

Choose only the most recent jobs that are relevant to the position you are applying for now. You may be tempted to list some of your most memorable experiences, but the most relevant ones are what the prospective employer is looking for; they want to see you tick boxes! If you’re applying for a Key Stage 2 teaching job then there’s no point focusing on all the time you might have spent as a nursery supply teacher. Expand on your relevant experiences too; what key skills did you take away from those jobs? How will you apply them in the future?

However you need to make sure there are no gaps on your CV, as this can look bad. Make a note of when you were seeking employment if there are any gaps in your CV.

charityVolunteer and Charity

Volunteer work always looks good on a CV, because it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to help someone out. As an extremely desirable quality in a teacher, showing recent examples of your volunteer work will help to impress your prospective employer, and give them a better idea of how you work.

You may need several different CV’s for different teaching positions. Don’t be afraid to create several CV’s as opposed to sticking to one ‘all purpose’ CV, as then you can dedicate more time to focusing on specific areas of each CV! You could be looking for a special educational needs teaching job but also be applying for roles at Key Stage 1 and your application for each job should be tailored accordingly.

To submit your CV to our database, simply click the Submit Your CV link and follow the instructions found on that page.