Reports! Sigh and sigh again. That word signifies every teachers’ stressful nightmare. I have just completed a weekend marathon of report writing for all my students. Reporting has come a long way since I was young. My elementary school report card was half the size of an A4 card. It listed your subjects and whether you were scored an A, B, C, D or E for that subject. The teacher then had space to write TWO WORDS! “Well Done? Pleasing Progress? Work Harder?”
I have just done a word count on one of the numerous reports I wrote this weekend. It came to FOUR HUNDRED AND NINE WORDS – and that is just MY comments. They still need to be added to the classroom teacher’s overall comments plus the comments for each subject.
Now, I envy those olden day teachers. If I just gave simple, straight forward grades and two word comments, I would have finished all thirty of my report cards in one afternoon and would not have had to work until late at night clacking away on my computer trying to think of the appropriate things to say.
So, this got me thinking. I think for us as teachers, reports are a great opportunity to document progress, victories, concerns and goals. It’s an official way of tracking exactly what we have taught and how far we have come. However, I know that every teacher at our school is pretty darn stressed at the moment writing these enormously detailed, long, verbose reports. (We all know that as hard as you try not to let it happen, that stress does follow you into the classroom.)
For parents, reports are a good opportunity to see where their child stands in relation to the rest of the cohort. It is important that they read the comments and take into account the teacher’s insight into their child and possibly follow up with any recommendations that are made. I like that our report cards have got grades as well as effort ratings (although will somebody please explain to me how my own son achieved an A in English and got a B for effort?)
But I ask this question: With all the comments, 407 AND more – does anyone ever really take note of them? Do we even remember WHAT was said, or do we only remember that very important symbolic letter of the alphabet at the end of it all? Is it worth spending stressful hours and hours writing long reports, which require detailed assessment, thought, cross-referncing, editing, printing and reprinting or should we also stick to TWO WORDS (Okay – maybe not as simple as two words, but you know what I mean.)
I know when I read my own boys’ report, I read the comments once, but always remember the grade. Sometimes, I don’t even agree with the comments. Sometimes the comments hurt because they clash with my own perceptions I have of my children.
My own kids? They only care about the grade and are not interested in the comments at all.
I would love to know your thoughts on this one – as parents and teachers. What works for you?
Would you prefer a simple report card that tells you very briefly what you need to know or do your prefer a long, detailed document with approximately 400 plus words from each teacher?
And more importantly – do your even remember the comments (which should actually be more significant than the mark,) or do you only remember the grade?
Tell me – I would love to know.