Ah, the wonders of paperwork and school report writing. Not the most glamorous part of our teaching jobs, but pretty important. A mandatory part of recording progress and assessment, and sharing a student’s results with parents, the school report is a nervewracking experience for everyone involved.
In some ways, writing school reports is an artform in itself. The trick is knowing what to put in them and how to word them for the people who are going to be reading them – parents and guardians who have their child’s best interests at heart.
Here’s some ideas to make your school report writing on point and effective, and not a burdensome part of your teaching job.
What to report on
Reports are an overview of the academic year for each student and are important information to take forward, for the students, the parents, and for you. You need to keep in mind what’s needed for each individual and their ongoing education.
Focused school reports
Keep reminding yourself of the reasons why you’re writing it, what the point of the report is, and who it’s for. Don’t go into general comments about the class as a whole, but keep it relevant to the student in mind.
Keep it brief
There’s no point going on for pages and pages - for a start you don’t have space. Say what you need to say and leave it at that. You need a comment based on an overview of the year, and to back it up with examples and observations. The report is a short form overview, and you can always expand at the parents evening.
Gather the information
You know the subject, you know the student – so be confident you can report.. Keeping up-to-date notes throughout the year on the students you are teaching is often the best way of keeping track of the information at your disposal. Then, having the notes and words in front of you can often help you know what you need to write before you write it. Ask other teachers about their experiences with the students, to help back up your points. Make sure that you have gathered your notes and research to make your job easier.
Writing an encouraging school report
There are many ways that you can promote student’s work in an encouraging manner. Using supportive and measured words can make for a more pleasant reading experience. However, try not to overdo it, otherwise the reader, whether that be the students, their parents or other teachers, may feel you are being insincere with your praise. Stating the facts, however, can’t be misread. Show the reader that you have observed properly, listened, understood and looked after the students and their education and are excited to work with them to grow and develop.
Delivering negative feedback
It’s never an easy thing to do, especially if you get along with the students. But it’s always best to be open and honest. The likelihood is that they would prefer to hear it from you rather than someone else who may not be so nice about it. Wording what you need to say diplomatically is sometimes a good approach, and mixing the positives with the negatives is another, but there are occasions where a direct approach is needed. Treat negative feedback as if you needed to say it to their face. Be polite, be honest, and above all tell them what they need to move forward.
Writing a school report is a standard part of a teaching job in England. So it’s something to get used to. Above all, remember that the purpose is to inform on what has happened and inspire to move forward.