Done! Report cards are completed, printed, and stuffed. The grades were the easy part as they were collected throughout the marking period, inputted into the software program, and it computed them for me. The hard part was the comments. Given a minimum number of characters to reflect on a child’s strengths, weaknesses, progress, and behavior is a huge challenge. You want to be honest, but not too honest or direct in some cases. You want to be gentle, but still get the message across. It can be such a conundrum!
Most often, the comments are what parents look at first. And you know what? Kids are the same way. When I hand back a scored piece of writing or reading response using a detailed rubric, the students quickly scan the paper looking for my personal feedback. One day a student brought her rubric to me and asked me what it all meant. This was after many lessons on how to use it and multiple opportunities to practice using it. So, I took a deep breath, sat down with the student and went over her strengths and possible areas that she might think about making into writing goals. When I was done, she looked up at me with bright blue eyes and a furrowed brow and asked, “But did you like it?”
That’s all she wanted. A simple recognition that I appreciated her work. When had I become too impersonal with my own student? When had I made it more about the work than the child? It should always be about the child first! In reality, I believe that is what parents are seeking. They want to know if you like their child or not. If they get the feeling that you appreciate Johnny or Mary, then, and only then, will they listen to your analysis of their academic progress and give it merit. Of course, I like all of my students. Some are easier than others, but I like them all. I re-read all of my report card comments to make sure that message came through loud and clear.