I've written reports for kids, teens, adults and corporate students. I’ve written both individual and class reports usually over a semester of no more than 6 months. In the past I have found myself with lots of work to do at the end of term and in recent years I have got smart to this and kept detailed notes throughout the term to feed into end of semester reports. In the centre I work in, the registers have a page to make individual student notes and I use this after each lesson to record anything salient that can be used in reports.
A report should be a record of progress and performance throughout the term of an individual student. Each report should be different. This may sound obvious but I have seen on lots of occasions teachers simply change names and keep the same report body for other students. Not acceptable in my opinion. On one occasion a teacher had a class which included identical twins. They got identical reports with just the names changed. Can you imagine being the parents and receiving those reports? Parents also compare reports so it is essential that this doesn't happen as you will get found out.
One rule I stick to is that no report should come as a shock to a parent or student. A report should not deliver any negative news that hasn’t already been addressed during the tem. If you have anything negative to report this should be flagged up before and addressed appropriately. As a parent the last thing I want to see in a report is that my daughter is failing or behaving unduly as there is very little time for me to address this and correct it.
I also think teachers should not be using reports to punish an unruly student. Reports should not be used as a classroom management tool to keep students in check.
In terms of the content of a report, my very general formula for a good report is as follows.
Line one general comment about the students and performance –
(student’s name) is a _________ and _____________ student who has worked __ _______ throughout the term.
Next line – Strengths in language or skills
He/She has excellent ____________ and ___________ skills and uses these to his/her full potential.
Next line - more strengths in non language related aspects
Her/His learning skills are very good and this is evidenced in her ……/ He/She works well with others and this is shown by ….
Next line – Things to work on
She/He would benefit from more work on ________________ in order to bring this into line with other skills.
Last line - General comment
I have enjoyed teaching ______ and with further study should continue to develop.
It’s a good idea to keep a bank of these as you write as they will serve you well in the future. It’s also important to keep in mind the audience. If the parents or students are not competent in English themselves using flowery language that sounds nice to you may not get the message across.
Parents’ days should always be an opportunity for parents to ask questions and I believe you should always start by giving the parent or guardian the choice of doing this. Again no shocks should be given to the parents. You need to be fully prepared and be able to answer these questions and this is when the notes throughout the term come in handy. Often they would just like to hear how the child is doing and I normally use the written report as the basis of the conversation. I will read through the report and give specific examples of positive work from notes or the students own notebook. When it comes to areas to develop I will help by pointing out ways the parents themselves can help learner can learn outside the classroom or to help modify behaviour in the classroom if necessary.
In my experience I get to meet the parents of students that are progressing well and have no problems in their learning. The parents of students who may need a bit more of a push, are often not present. This may say a lot but I guess that’s for another blog.