As I write this, teachers all over the country are deep into report writing season. Some enjoy it, others dread it. In my first few years of teaching I felt so overwhelmed and anxious about what I was writing and it took me forever. Since those early days I’ve developed some strategies to make the process smoother, quicker and easier. These strategies are a guide only; as you become more experienced at report writing you will develop your own. No two teachers prepare and write in the same way. The guidelines will help you get started and feel less stressed about the whole process. Here are my TOP EIGHT TIPS to support you and help make your own report writing experience as smooth as possible.
Report writing cannot be effective if proper assessment has not taken place. Set up a system for testing and collection early in the year. Keep detailed records of all assessments that you prepare, ready for report writing. You won’t need to refer to all assessment in the report, however the data is usable in other ways, such as to differentiate or to use in parent/teacher interviews.
Download (and perhaps print) the relevant curriculum documents for your state and the grade level you teach. Refer to these carefully as you assign grades.
#3 Time Management
Enter the relevant due dates in your diary and work backwards, to determine when you really need to be writing. Then, set aside a few weekends to focus on it. It’s really hard to write mid week whilst still teaching. I find writing in a block allows you to get into the swing of it and to write good quality comments.
Find out what format/layout your school is using, as this informs how many comments you are required to make and in what sections. For example, will all comments be in a general section or separated into general, literacy, numeracy etc.
#5 Comment Database
Where possible (and with leadership approval) use comment databases, either school prepared or from another source. Why reinvent the wheel? These comments are grammatically correct, aligned with curriculum and contain correct punctuation. A word of caution here – the reports still need to be personalised so parents get a real sense of their child in the comments.
#6 Word Choice
- Write what the student CAN do.
- Avoid teacher speak.
- Be concise.
- No more than two connected ideas per sentence.
- Phrase comments positively.
- Be specific.
- No comment should be a surprise for parents.
- Use formal language.
- Start and finish with a positive comment.
#7 Editing and Proofreading
As you write, don’t worry too much about editing and proofreading. Get your thoughts down first. Set them aside for a few days before you begin editing. Edit content first, proofread grammar and punctuation second.
You deserve it.
The Essential Teacher’s Guide contains a complete chapter with far greater detail if you’d like to read more – https://www.survivingandthriving.com.au/product/the-essential-teachers-guide/