First Timer: Report Cards

I have just finished my first full report cards! (Pause for applause 😉 ) And… I SURVIVED!

Whew! It was a long stretch there but it was generally pretty smooth and I learned a lot. I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks that I learned for those of you who are coming up to this obstacle soon.

Some of this advice will be general but some is middle school specific and/or district specific.

Best pieces of advice from others…

1. Start early and do a little bit at a time
2. Don’t let yourself stress about them because they will get finished
3. Don’t try to write all your personal comments in one sitting. Do a few at a time or mix up the writing with marking if you can’t take a full break.

My advice…
1. Think about your students before you write (the interactions and conversations you have with them, what would you say directly to them about their work habits, etc.)
2. DON’T, I repeat – DON’T have kids hand in big projects the week before marks are due… Yup I did it again.
3. Set realistic goals (my first to do list had me finishing my report cards 3 days early and I was stressing so much… Why bother adding extra stress?!)

Subject Comments

For our report cards we have to have a letter grade, behaviour mark, and a minimum of 3 comments (from a database) for each subject. Before I went through my students marks I gathered all the comments I wanted to choose from for each subject.

And then I used a fresh mark sheet to write the letter grade, work habits mark, and comment numbers for each student. This made for easy and (relatively) quick data entry.

Term Comments
We then have to write a paragraph for personal responsibility and behaviour for each student. I really enjoyed doing this part of the report cards. I did 5 at a time and spread them out over about a week. It was really nice to take the time to reflect on my relationship with the students and suggest some goals for them for the coming months. I found it easier to write the comments for students whose parents I have connected with in the past. (I don’t know if this is helpful because we can’t always make those connections but I thought it was interesting.) My comments included a positive reflection on the student and what they do for the class environment, a goal or area for improvement, and then my own well wishes for the student (especially since I won’t be their teacher for the rest of the year!)

But, yes, I stressed…


6:38 pm finished… happy, relieved, and ya I went a little crazy!

There were a few moments when I was close to tears staring at the piles of work and marking on my desk. I hurt my back a week ago and sitting at a desk for that long was quite physically painful at times – there may have been some yoga on the classroom floor. And yes I had to double check my comments with other teachers and admin to make sure I was on the right track. And YES it was a ton of work! More than I ever expected it to be!

But it had to be done right? And I got through it while still enjoying my last couple of days with the kids – Last day is tomorrow 😦

Good luck to everyone battling the report cards as I write this! You can do it!!

What are your tips and tricks for us first time report card writers?


First Year Teacher Illnesses

I think we can all agree that being sick is the worst.  Take, for example, last weekend in Victoria.  It was gorgeous and sunny and full on summer…and I was sick on the couch with a fever for the majority of that 30 degree day.  Enter one of the worst things about our profession – constant barrage of germs.

Unlike Meaghan, I cruised through the first half of this school year unscathed by students’ germs.  I began to wonder what this “first year teacher illness” thing was about, because it sure had not been a problem for me.  Then one fateful day, around early January, a scratchy throat came on.  This day marked the beginning to my first year teacher illness escapade.

I am an exploratory teacher and I teach dance/music at two schools (middle and elementary) which means I am physically active for 100% of my teaching days.  Let me tell you, teaching dance/music when sick is not good times.  Last weekend when I was sick I had to book myself as “unavailable” for one of my TOC days.  As I logged in my sick day I noticed an interesting pattern on my account; the last time I booked a sick day was right before Spring Break, which occurred, incidentally, with the rotation of new students.  At that moment a little light bulb went off…”DING! New rotation of students = new germs = Mrs. Alleyn is most likely going to get sick.” Case closed.  A new rotation of students means my energy levels need to be through the roof.  It’s not always easy selling a dance class to Grade 8s, but I’ve found that if I am totally engaged in my dance classes, then my students will be quicker to buy in.  This means I am warming up and doing conditioning exercises and leaps, turns, jumps, and choreography for all six blocks for at least three consecutive weeks.  Fewf.  No wonder my body tends to crash and burn during these rotation switches.

The elementary side of things is different.  My music job is still fairly active, but I swear the germs manifest and mutate at a more rapid pace in elementary school because kids are still picking their noses and coughing into  the open air (or their hands).  And then they want to hold your hand while you walk them back to class (inward cringe).  Let it be known that I am not the teacher or person who denies a child a held hand in the hallway; however, I definitely stop at the washroom on my way back to the music room to scrub my hands vigorously while singing “Happy Birthday”.  So. Gross.

I’m still new to this, so I’m curious about:

– what preventative health methods do you use to keep your body healthy and your energy levels up while sickness roams the halls?

– does one’s immune system ever strengthen and balance out in the teaching world?

peace&love (and health!)


I have been known to sport this attractive fever-busting look in public. Here I am on a train in Germany, trying to enjoy my vaca, but really not enjoying it at all.