Tips for Report Card Writing, Part One
Get Organized Early On
There’s no better way to cause yourself term-end stress than to feel like you’ve left all your marking and filing to the last minute. The school year can be relentless, and it’s easy to fall behind on the after-hours work, but try to establish a marking and recording schedule in September so assessments of your students’ progress are up to date and ready at your fingertips when it comes time for summative reports. Set yourself inbox/outbox goals early on — that is, decide how much marking you’ll be doing each week, and stick with it. While this is just plain good teaching practice, and gives your students real-time information about their progress and areas of improvement regularly throughout the year, it also keeps your records in top-notch shape so that when the reporting period comes around, it’s just a case of re-entering pre-calculated data and using the student evaluator to generate your comments.
Get the Parents On Board
Keep parents in the loop at regular intervals throughout the year to make sure they’re up to date on their child’s progress. Not only will this improve your students’ chances of receiving in-home support and encouragement as well as praise when due, it also prevents the dreaded “surprise” report card and prepares parents to discuss their children with knowledge and confidence during parent-teacher conferences.
Use Formative Assessments as Part of a Weekly Routine
Throughout the school year, routinely use formative assessment checklists and anecdotal records and file them weekly so that when it comes time for mid-term or summative reports, you know exactly how far along your students have come without having to wrack your memory for information you observed six to ten months before.
Don’t Stray Too Far From Your Comfort Zone
Use the method you’re most comfortable with to record marks and levels throughout the year. Some teachers thrive on technology and thrill at the sight of tallies generated at the touch of a button, while others are more at home with paper charts and pencils. The key is organization and efficiency, and so whichever system garners the best returns on your time is the one you should stick with.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Write your report cards when you’re well-rested and calm and have enough time to complete the job without feeling stressed. As far as teacher duties go, report cards occur relatively infrequently throughout the school year, and the system used by your school to log results may not be as familiar as you remember it to be. Pour yourself a cup of tea, schedule in regular breaks, and give yourself time to focus on your task.