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.

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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…

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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?

Meaghan

I’ll do it tomorrow…

Procrastination… Sigh. One of my biggest obstacles/challenges/learning curves/etc. this year! I absolutely love planning and prepping for my classes. I get so excited everytime I come up with a new project or lesson idea and I can work for hours of my free time on it. But marking? That’s another story! And report card writing? Don’t even ask!

So, because I’m always the one saying I’ll do it tomorrow, I tried to come up with some ways to avoid the crunch time marking, mark entry and report card writing that I struggled with in my practicum. My goal this year was to only assign work that I’m interested in marking, in hopes that I would actually be inclined to do the marking!

And for the most part – it worked! I really loved reading my students worked. I adored their completed projects (like our French Storybooks!) I was enthralled by their creativity – their ability to turn a simple assignment into a work of art or something truly personal and meaningful.

But I still had that pile of marking sitting on my desk more often than not…

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And I still had to hand back that assignment a couple weeks after spring break that no one remembered doing…

And I still had a student ask when I was going to hand something back that I had promised to hand back… errrr gulp… over a week ago!

This year I even had two different students write (respectful) persuasive essays about why teachers should have due dates too (they swore they didn’t write about me but the cards aren’t stacked in my favor on that one 😉 )

Although I feel that I’ve improved leaps and bounds over last year (re: not marking on my precious weekends!) I still have a long way to go on this one! I only had 2 subjects too teach this year… a full course load might send me off the deep end!

I want… No- I NEED your help!

How do you stay on top of your marking?

Do you mark all of your students’ work or choose key bits and pieces?

Any other tips for new teachers like me?

As always, your help and advice is loved and appreciated!

Meaghan