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