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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Report Cards

Tis the season! Report card season, that is. I am currently drowning in a sea of assessments, grades, marks, band scales, and report cards. Our first quarter ends tomorrow, and our reports are due on Sunday.

I have already had one experience with report cards as a "real teacher". Three weeks into school, we had to give each student a 3-sentence comment and mark their behaviour and effort on a 4-point scale (unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, outstanding). I couldn't believe how early these reports were expected.

This report card is similar - I must give each student a letter for their behaviour and effort (2 separate marks), a 300 words or less comment, and a GRADE. This is my first time giving an actual grade. If you have been following my blog, you may remember that I have two different systems of grading occurring simultaneously (read more about Best Sustained Performance vs. Level of Achievement here!).

With some of my classes, the grades will be easy. With others, perhaps I haven't been doing enough assessment along the way. I had a summative test today and will be having another tomorrow in a different class... talk about leaving it to the last minute! I still must grade these tests before I can even start their reports.

I am stressed to the maximum at the moment. It's currently 5:15 p.m. and I'm eating dinner at school, writing a blog post to procrastinate. I'm planning on staying here until I absolutely have a few things crossed off the giant To Do list I recently printed. This list is now sitting between my computer and my keyboard, simply staring at me.

The one thing that is keeping me going? Once I'm done these report cards, I will be 1/4 of the way through my first year of teaching. That's crazy! The year is flying by, and fairly soon I'll be done my first year of teaching.

Please, veteran teachers, any advice for report cards or the stress I'm feeling? I'm sensing a long, long weekend ahead of me.

To end on a positive note, here's a picture of the ladies of the Creative Arts Department on Halloween this year! (L-R music [me], drama, art, and art). We're hoping to do Grease as our musical this year, hence our costumes!


  1. Welcome to teaching! Perhaps you can figure out how to make assessment of work easier for you and your students. Perhaps having them assess each other or even themselves would help cut the paperwork down.

    Students could also put in their own comments as a part of the 300 word entry, (younger could dictate using an app such as "Speak Here Now" - Android, I am sure there is a similar app for iPad).

    Anyway, stick in there, you will figure it out - I am sure others will comment.


    1. Hi Carl!

      I'm not sure if my school would agree with students assessing themselves, but it's a good idea. I might even get students to help with some of my grading in the future since it piled up at the end of the semester.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. Hi Emma,
    It looks like you have an extremely challenging report card system where you are. In my 25 years of education work, our report cards in CA were never this challenging. I'd recommend that you consider teaming with a colleague to create a bank of these 300 word responses and save them to a google doc or Evernote notebook. Then you can all share the templates of the comments, and revise them as needed for your students. Many teachers do this with short comments and it makes the work a bit easier.
    In the midst of this stressful time, be sure to get some rest. Go home! Don't stay at school, as this will potentially make the work seem more overwhelming. You also need to stay away from junk food, and eat and drink healthy. You'd be surprised also that if you take a break to go for a walk, or watch a fun, light hearted movie, it will help you get through this time a bit easier. Try playing some classical music as you go about the task of completing your report cards. These soothing sounds, playing in the background will help to create a calm environment for you as you work.
    I know it will all work out well for you in the end.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you so much for commenting and retweeting my tweet regarding this. I was extremely stressed when I wrote this post and it really helped to hear from veteran educators :)

      My curriculum leader gave me a template of comments, so thank you for that idea! I also love the advice about taking time for myself - thank you for the reminder.

      I was waiting to reply until I was done my reports - and I JUST finished! I now have to plan for next week, but at least I'm done all of my grades, marks, comments, etc!

      Thanks again :)

    2. Yay! So great to know that you got through it and "thrived" in the process. We are not meant to just survive, so the idea of thriving in the process of your journey is important. Be sure to do those self care things at least once a week! Making time for fun is important as it makes us better teachers! Cheers!

  3. Hi Emma,
    After reading your post and realizing that I was smiling and nodding to myself, I thought I'd let you know that the stress your feeling is a direct result of you trying your best. So congrats, you're doing the best you can for your kids. That's great! Remember too, a lesson I finally learned, that there will always be something to do. Always. If you don't take time for yourself and pursue or partake in the things that make you happy, you'll drive yourself crazy, sick, or out of the profession. It is okay to walk away at the end of a 'normal' day and to say no when more 'stuff' demands your time.

    You certainly have a challenging report card system. Talk to some of your more experienced peers to see how they deal with the 300 word responses and see if they would share or collaborate. I've always found the 1st quarter the most difficult period of the school year to assess and issue grades for their learning. We're just getting to know our kids at this point and still don't have a deep understanding of what they can do or are capable of. Try to be as consistent as you can with the understanding that you have gained. Then take a breath, it sounds as if you are off to a great start.

    For support and ideas, try to participate in Lisa's wonderful #NTChat on Wednesday's. I made a lot of great connections and more importantly learned that I wasn't the only one going through the same things as a new teacher. My best @YourKidsteacher

    1. Hi Eric,

      I really appreciate your comment. I am trying my best! It just takes awhile. I know I will become more efficient with time and experience. I'm learning to take time for myself!

      My curriculum leader actually gave me a few different templates which really helped. As strange as it sounds, I think being a connected educator on Twitter also helps! I think of the 300 characters being like 2 tweets!

      I wish I could participate in #ntchat! It occurs at 5:00 am here. I might try and make it to one of the chats sometime when I'm feeling energized! I can't believe this week's chat was actually about report cards - I always try and catch up the next day.

      Thanks again for commenting! I followed you on Twitter - feel free to follow me (@EmmainDubai) if you wish!