Happy report writing

November 2, 2015 , In: TEACH
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When teachers talk about writing reports, most of the time it’s in the context of all the stress they cause. Our weekends and nights are spent laboring over each assessment and every word. Here’s a challenge: how about we talk of the joys of report-writing instead?

Here’s a challenge: how about we talk of the joys of report-writing instead?

 

My friend thought I had one too many cups of tea when I revealed during a staff meeting that I look forward to writing reports. But on she went, always a receptive learner, and tried writing reports with a ‘joyous attitude’ and her experience: ‘I’m having fun too! I actually felt sad when my computer battery went flat and I had to stop for a while.’

Sounds pretty groundbreaking, hey?

I’m not encouraging you to pretend that you’re having fun. You have to be convinced that writing reports is a meaningful, necessary activity, worthy of all the hours spent and sentences crafted. You might argue there could be a better system than how it’s done in your school or all schools in general and you’re welcome to suggest ways of improving it. But as a dedicated teacher, you have to agree that reporting back on student growth is an essential part of the job.

Let me share with you what excites me about writing reports followed by a few tips, in the hope that by the end, as you change your mind and your practice, ‘happy report-writing’ will become a norm and no longer an oxymoron.

Exciting things about report writing

Celebrating student growth

Aren’t you proud when students finally get something you’ve been teaching? Maybe they’re writing is now reader-friendly because of using paragraphs. I see report writing as one way of honouring their progress and it excites me to be able to declare it in a document that parents and students value so much.

I see report writing as one way of honouring students’ progress and it excites me…

 

Sharing insight that grades won’t show

Grades may have a place but they do not tell a child’s learning story. Writing report comments allows me to share how students have grown and how they got to where they are. The highlights of their journey and their attitudes are well worth the telling.

Grades may have a place but they do not tell a child’s learning story.

 

Continuing partnership with parents

Reports also provide space for talking about the students’ potential and points for improvement. This way, it becomes an open-ended document that says, ‘but wait, there’s even more growth that can happen’ rather than a limiting ‘this is all your child is’. Getting parents thinking about their child’s future learning and their role is exciting.

Report writing checklist

1. Share a learning highlight

Has your student blown the class away with a confident and clear delivery of her speech? Has your student written a story with an exciting and creative resolution? Is your student now able to read and manipulate numbers in the millions?

Example: He has enjoyed creating stories that always entertain the class. His narratives include developed characters, funny complications and satisfying endings.

2. Talk about the student’s attitude to learning and challenges

It’s a fact that not all students will love all subjects and that’s okay. But has your student kept trying even if multiplying numbers isn’t his favourite activity? Does your student value time with you by asking for help and by focusing? On the flipside, does your student need to be more eager to ask for help?

It’s a fact that not all students will love all subjects and that’s okay. But has your student kept trying even if multiplying numbers isn’t his favourite activity? Does your student value time with you by asking for help and by focusing?

 

Example: He can be hesitant to admit when a concept challenges him, but in being honest and open to ask for help, he can better work on strengthening areas of concern.

3. Include specific points for improvement or the next steps

In a waiting room recently, I overheard a Mum ask her child (in Year 3 or 4) ‘Why does your teacher say your writing can be better? Are you not writing enough? Are you writing bad things?’ The child answered, ‘I don’t know.’

In a waiting room recently, I overheard a Mum ask her child (in Year 3 or 4) ‘Why does your teacher say your writing can be better? Are you not writing enough? Are you writing bad things?’

 

Let’s not leave it to parents and students to guess how they can improve. I know we do not have all the answers but we can give some direction.

Examples:

  • Understanding real-life situations where division is used will enable her to develop skills in this operation.
  • Mastering his 8s and 9s multiplication facts will allow him to be more accurate when multiplying large numbers.
  • His next challenge is to be more consistent in his use of capital letters and full stops.
  • Gaining more confidence to make eye contact during presentations is something she can improve on.

Let’s not leave it to parents and students to guess how they can improve. I know we do not have all the answers but we can give some direction.

Here’s a visual summary of the article you can look to for inspiration. :)

Happy report writing

 

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Rachel Herweynen

Teacher & Traveller

Alive because of Jesus - a teacher, traveller and wife of a photographer. I write to learn, to help and to be thankful.

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