Teach Tip Tuesday: You’re not to blame! Probably.

It’s marking season. As countless teachers wade their way through the piles of assessment many of them begin to attack themselves.

Go digital to streamline your marking and save time.

What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? I didn’t work hard enough! I failed them!

These are common thoughts that swirl through the minds of teachers as they mark at least 125 pieces of assessment in one week.

Marking students assessment after finalising a unit with the final piece of assessment can be both demoralising and exhilarating.

More often than not this year I am hearing more stories of being disappointed with student results then I am about how thrilled they are with them.

As teachers we can be exceptionally hard on ourselves and take a great deal of responsibility for the results students achieve. We need to stop!

Meme: If you didn't get the grade you wanted it's highly possible I didn't get the work I wanted. Go digital to streamline your marking and save time.

Our students are between 5 and 19 years of age and their are many other factors that influence how they perform on their assessment. Many students contend with their own issues and this can be the sole reason that they didn’t perform. There are only so many things that teachers can control and many of the things that impact students results cannot be controlled by teachers.

Before you beat yourself up over your classes results use the checklist below to determine your level of blame.


  • Did you teach the content that was required to complete the assessment?
  • Did you plan lessons that delivered the content in a way that students could engage? 
  • Did you collect feedback from students throughout the term about their progress and understanding?
  • Did you provide feedback to students about aspects of the course they could work or focus on? 
  • Did you provide scaffolds or revision for students to assist them in preparing for their assessment? 
  • Did you provide sufficient time for students to complete their assessment?
  • Have you attempted to form a rapport with your students?
  • Have you implemented and communicated expectations with your students? 
  • Have you provided differentiation for students that require it to access the content or be extended beyond the content? 
  • Have you made contact with parents or guardians to express concerns over performance or behaviour?

The checklist above gives 10 of our core jobs as a teacher. If you can tick of the majority of these then you are not to blame for your students results.

There is nothing wrong with reflecting on student progress and your own. Asking students for feedback on how you can improve, even digging a little deeper into a students previous results if you are surprised by their performance. These are all the things that make you an excellent teacher.

At some stage we have to remove the burden of student performance from ourselves. Yes we are responsible for how they perform but to solely. We do not need to carry the burden alone it needs to be shared with our students, their parents and the school community.

If you are beating yourself up where is the accountability of the other stakeholders in this scenario. What are we teaching our students if it is always our fault they didn’t do as well as they wanted?

While I acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we aren’t at our best as teachers we are always striving for the best for our students, don’t ruin this time of reflection for them.

Never Fail.png

How do you manage your disappointment or elation at your students work? Are you always blaming yourself for their performance? Please share your experiences by commenting below or on our facebook page.


About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
This entry was posted in General Teaching, Teach Tip Tuesday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s