There are many things about being a teacher which are challenging. But one of them, that has been on my mind, as with many teachers at this time of year, is report writing.
For those unencumbered with school aged children, reports are a biannual rite of passage for both teacher and student. They attempt to tell you how your offspring have been performing at school. Though the format varies from school to school reports are similar in may ways. In them, teachers attempt to say in a positive way how your child is progressing. There is a section on how they get on with other children, how they behave in and out of the classroom, their attitude and how they are performing in the different curriculum areas.
How their progress is reported also can vary. Here at the British School Alexandria, we have recently changed to an emerging, expected and exceeding model. We have a tool box which the children’s work is graded against and depending on how they do depends on where they are. I’m still undecided what I think about this system. I have a feeling there has to be a better system but honestly I haven’t enough experience to say what that is. (Historically there was a need to get away from level’s on account of the super competitive nature of the parents here.)
Writing meaningful reports is tricky. Trying to make every report personalised for every student is also time-consuming. But having become a parent who now receives school reports I am, more than ever, conscious of how I write my reports. I try to use plain language that is easily understood. I try not to use teacher speak and while I am generally positive, if Ahmed isn’t where he should be with his writing, I am going to tell you.
Report writing is as necessary as it can be painful. Once it’s done and the stress of trying to be fair and accurate is done, reports are actually a good way, funnily enough, of reviewing students progress for yourself as their teacher. (As an aside I wonder how useful parents find them?) The good news is that report time does mean that the school year is drawing to a close and summer holidays beckon.