My report cards are due tomorrow. I just finished and it is 10:35 pm. This isn't the latest hour at which I have finished, nor is it the earliest.
For better or for worse, my school relies heavily on a narrative to communicate progress. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I like being able to tell students and parents exactly what I see, rather than simply choosing from a menu of comments, as I've had to do in other schools. Relating a specific moment or success is powerful.
On the other hand, I walked away from today's writing marathon worried that there was lots of room for bias. Did I gush more about the one student than another? Did I allow recent frustrations with a student over-shadow her growth? Was there appropriate data to support what I wrote?
Don't get me wrong, I am pleased with the outcome of today's report card rally. I read my comments over and over. I looked at their scores and samples of student work. A trusted colleague will read them all over the weekend and no doubt locate any comments that aren't quite right. Or fair.
But every single time I go through this process I wonder: is there a better way?
A better blogger than me might have some answers to this question, but after nearly 12 hours of writing, I am not that blogger. Instead, I am consumed with questions. How do other schools and teachers balance data with personalized goals and progress? What is the best way to communicate growth to students and parents? Will what I wrote today enable students to make continued growth or just make them feel bad? Are my positive comments going to lead to complacency or determination?
I have no answers. But perhaps you do. Please post comments. What works for you? What research do you have that sheds light on reporting progress?
I need your help. And some sleep!