Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bleary-Eyed, Happy & Riddled With Questions

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!

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