‘What? I’ve just been to hell and back and you’re still talking about writing school reports?’
I hear you.
Hopefully, if all went to plan in your school, reports are done. They’re either being finalised, mailed out, or in your students’ hot little hands. It’s time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and cruise to the July holidays, right?
Agreed! It’s definitely time to relax and put your feet up. But next time around there’s a way to make report writing a little less hellish.
Give quality typed assessment feedback
One of the best hints I ever got as a beginning teacher was to give high-quality feedback on classwork and assessments. You’ve heard it before, right?
I bet you haven’t thought of this though. Giving great feedback and typing it, not only improves student performance and is professional, but it also:
- helps kids work harder and behave better because they know you care,
- gives you something “meaty” to talk about at parent/teacher interviews,
- gives you some ready-made feedback to include in your report writing.
Create a personal comment bank
This hint saved my sanity as a teacher in my first year and when I was head of a department. I started by reading quality report comments written by colleagues in my subject area. I got a handle on how to write quality comments focused on achievement and improvement. I saved them in an Excel spreadsheet, but a Word document would work just as well. I spent twelve years building, adding to and adapting my comment bank. This worked so well because it saved me time AND best of all, it sounded like me – not some generic comments I “borrowed” off someone else.
BUT, there’s a catch! For it to work, you must proofread it or get a colleague to do it for you.
For a handy table of adjectives to help you build your personal comment bank, click here.
Read and follow your school’s report style guide
I know, what a drag, eh? You know it all because you’ve been told over and over. Guess what? Chances are that when it comes to the crunch you ignore the style guide. Do you figure that’s someone else’s job? If you’re a slacko, yeah maybe. But I’m guessing you’re here because you care about quality writing.
I promise you, #3 will save your sanity and that of your colleagues who have to read your comments later.
Read and follow the style guide they give you. Whether you think co-operation should have a hyphen or not Does. Not. Matter.
Run a spellcheck
In the busy-ness and mayhem that is report time in a school, this one is easily overlooked. Running a simple spellcheck over your comments before you proofread will make the process less painful. While not perfect, a spellcheck will pick up on words you’ve typed twice, many misspellings and double spaces.
Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
You’re almost there. If you don’t want an irate Head of Curriculum hunting you down, I suggest strongly that you proofread your comments. I know you’re probably fed up with them by this stage. Who wouldn’t be? But if you do this pain-in-the-butt job now it will not only make your colleagues happy, but you’ll be more professional.
Quick proofreading checklist:
- Have you followed your school’s report style guide for all titles, spellings and punctuation?
- Have you got the student’s name right and spelt it correctly and consistently?
- Have you got your ‘he’ and ‘she’ references correct?
- Do you have the right number of characters? Have you gone over in length?
- Is it a well-written report that adds value to the student’s education?
- Have you been positive and constructive rather than critical and belittling?
Follow these steps and spend your next report period Panadol free.