Report cards are part of school life, they can be time consuming and certainly take cut into your personal time in a big way. I remember my own children saying that they hated me writing reports as basically I was not ‘present’ for them. There’s no denying that report card comments take a lot of time to write and the process of meeting report card deadlines can be stressful. It’s time to accept the inevitable and get started.
Each of us have our own strategies, for some it is write them subject by subject, for others it may be to start with the easiest first, or for others it may be start with the hardest first.
It is vital that you refer to previous reports that have been written by other teachers so that there are no huge discrepancies between your assessment and reporting, and those of the teacher from the previous year.
Your school, like every school, will have their own system for report card comments. Some are written using a purpose specific program, and they will require that this is what will be the tool that you use.
Before you start it is vital to consult with your Principal, head teacher or year Coordinator to get a clear understanding of their expectations. If you’re a first-year teacher and are feeling totally overwhelmed, take the initiative to set up a meeting with a mentor or more experienced member of staff and seek guidance. Prepare your questions and take notes. It is best to start out the right track before you get started.
Be your own best friend and get your general comments done as soon as you have gathered enough observational and anecdotal information about your students.
Tips for getting started…
- Set a timer for fifteen minutes and commit to writing two or three report card comments. Tell yourself you’ve only got to do it for 15 minutes.
- Break the huge task of report writing into smaller chunks. Consider starting with your general comments. Break your general report card comments into chunks of two or three a day.
- Start with the hardest task. You’ll be surprised how empowering and motivating it is to know that you’ve completed the bit you were dreading most. It’s all downhill from here!
- Use positive self-talk. Tell yourself I’ve got this, I can do this, I’m on a roll, and kid yourself – this is easy!
Match your comments to achievement standards
Be specific. Start your reports with a specific comment about each student. Make reference to a particular activity, task or a moment when students did something memorable or demonstrated significant progress. This will be appreciated by parents and students.
Each school does it differently but a general rule is to match your comments to achievement standards.
Leaving adequate time for proofreading is very important. Even if the ultimate responsibility to proofread lies with your Grade Coordinator or Principle, it is your responsibility to deliver report cards that are as error-free as possible. The quality of your work reflects on you and your level of care.
Here are some general tips for proofreading:
- Proofread first thing in the morning.
- Read your report card comments out loud and also silently. Read them slowly.
- Use a spell checker and grammar checker as a first screening, but don’t depend on them.
- Keep a list of your most common errors and proof for these separately.
- Double check the spelling of names.
- Double check little words: “or,” “of,” “it,” and “is” are often interchanged.
- If you’re not 100% certain about a comment, don’t include it.
- Ask someone who is not a teacher to proofread your report card comments. If they understand your comments, your students’ parents or guardians will too!
- Check for overuse of the pronouns he or she and the student’s name. Try to alternate use of the student name and the relative pronoun.
Create a comment bank
Comment banks are a useful resource to go to when you are struggling to express yourself in a clear and concise way. There’s no denying that they are a time saver. Opinion on whether report card comment banks are a good thing is split. In some schools use of comment banks is compulsory, in others they are frowned upon and in others, comment banks are optional.
Here are some links that you may find useful. Make sure that they link to the outcomes and objectives for your state.
- School Reporter
- 105 report card starters from PRODIGY
- Free report writing comments from TeachStarter
Use a checklist
Checklists help you to keep on track when things feel fuzzy. Your school may have its own customised checklist. If not, download this Free Download from Teachstarter.
Before proofing, reassure yourself that your job is nearly done by checking that you have included the important components of report card writing. From general elements such as using clear and concise language, to the finer details ensuring that key areas of improvement are linked to areas of achievement, you’ll feel great when you tick the box!
Be kind to yourself during this process
Writing report cards can be very stressful and it takes its toll on your mental well being. The combination of this huge administrative task, classroom and co-curricular responsibilities in your day-to-day life can really add up. Remember to spend time with your family, and yourself Take the dog for a walk, try some meditation or yoga, catch up with friends for a cuppa. The reports can wait! …and they will get written
The Alphabet Tree also has a number of resources that will make your job a little easier:
- Prep/Foundation – All English Learning INTENTIONS Posters. Australian Curriculum
- Learning Intentions and Success Criteria Posters
- Early Learning Assessment Search
- Primary Learning Assessment Search
- Secondary Learning Assessment Search