Monday, March 7, 2016

My 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

A Word On Third's 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

Hi, Teachers!

It's that dreaded time of year again... it's report card season! AHHHHH NOOOO!!! But don't worry. I am going to SAVE YOU LOTS OF TIME by sharing some awesome systems I've figured out for myself!

1. Complete grades before comments.
This one sounds simple, but hear me out. If a student is having trouble with something, you will remember to comment on it when you peruse the grades you left for that student. Whatever a student doesn't have a perfect score in is what should be in your comments (along with strengths of course!). This consistency will help you to know what to write in your comments each year.

2. Create a basic template and use it for every single student's comment.
This is by far my favorite tip. I like to give specific, thoughtful feedback on report cards. I don't have time to agonize over how to write certain things and edit for grammar. Each marking period, I use a new template. I re-use them every year, and I tweak them as necessary for each student. Here's a sample template which I use to write my comments:

(Name) makes friends quickly and is well-liked by his/her classmates. In reading, (Name) has demonstrated strength (insert skill[s] here). He/she is encouraged to (insert area[s] of growth needed here). In writing, (Name) has (insert skill[s] here). His/her next step(s) is/are to (insert area[s] of growth needed here). In math, (insert skill[s] here). He/she is working on (insert area[s] of growth needed here). (Name) is (insert impressive social skill here, and add an area of growth needed if necessary). (Name) is a joy to teach!

Now, I tend to think all of my students are a joy to teach, but if you don't, tweak that line. Or, if that student isn't good at making friends quickly, highlight another social-emotional characteristic of that student. You get my point--make a template that works for you. Make a few more of them. BOOM. You're done each year. Now you just need to add the content and stop worrying about the writing. This isn't a writing assignment--this is about communicating with parents effectively and sharing progress.

3. Use documents to help you use precise language wisely.
Now, I don't know about you, but I often struggle with how to say things effectively on a report card. If a kid struggles in an area of reading, how can I convey that to parents? Even harder, how do I convey that a child needs to work on building empathy skills in a way that is... well, empathetic!? Let me show you how to stop wasting time with that!
  • Use the Common Core Standards.
    This one is really useful. Have you been working on the Math Practices standards? Great! So use their language. Don't re-invent the wheel! YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT. So write, "Johnny is working to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them." BOOM. DONE. Working on building speaking and listening skills? Okay, find your grade's standards and write something like, "Sally asks questions to check understanding of information presented, stays on topic, and links her comments to the remarks of others." Great. Now parents know what their child is working on or doing already.
  • Use your curriculum documents.
    Again, what objectives/essential questions/enduring understandings are written on your curriculum documents? Use them the same way I suggested you use the standards above. Do you use a Responsive Classroom framework? Okay, pull some of their language on your report card comments. Whole Brain Teaching fanatic? Great, use their words! IT'S ALREADY WRITTEN CLEARLY AND EFFECTIVELY FOR YOU. Don't go cray-cray!!
  • Use some comments available online.
    Other teachers struggle with this too, so other teachers made resource documents already. You can find a ton on Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers. Click the picture below to see The Teacher Next Door's ideas! I found this freebie in about 5 seconds on Pinterest. There are some specific pieces of feedback you might use and some general pieces you might use as well. Remember, both are valuable types of comments to use if you're creating a template like I do.

And just because I like you, I'll even share a fourth secret if you got this far. This might sound obvious, but if you are going to be doing report cards over the weekend, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT FORGET YOUR CONFERRING BINDER/ANECDOTAL NOTES AT SCHOOL. Yeah... I've never done that before... It really helps if it's all in one binder too, but that's a post for another day! 

A Word On Third's 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

So now that I've read my post, you may not be jumping for joy that it's time to complete report cards, but you won't need to be so overwhelmed either. If I'm being honest with you, I really feel like I can get report cards done in 2 or 3 week nights (definitely 2 if I stay off of my phone!) because I use my tips and I already know my students. In the grand scheme of things, it's not so bad. What are your report card hacks? Are you working on report cards right now too? Comment below!

1 comment:

  1. I'm laughing at the last tip. I'm sure you're not the only one whose left important documents at school, not that I commiserate from experience or anything. ;)