What do teachers hate more than glitter?
Yep, 100 percent, I hate writing report cards more than I hate glitter. And that’s saying something.
Ok, I’ll be honest… not ALL art teachers hate glitter, but I’m pretty sure 99.9% of us do.
I don’t know what it’s like in your province or state, but over here in Quebec Progress Reports are due home before October 15th each year.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Progress Report”, it is an official report card we send out to parents part-way through Term 1 to let them know precisely (not really) how their children are progressing a month BEFORE they receive their official marks for 1st Term.
In other words, it’s the 1st evaluation period of the school year that comes without a mark. Rather, we put in a general (preselected) comment or two about how the child is fairing thus far in their core subjects, i.e. ELA, FSL, and Math.
On one hand, I’m happy I’ll only need to enter comments for 16 ELA students vs. 250 Art students. But on the other hand, I hate “writing” report cards of any kind because (in my opinion) they’re absolute garbage and archaic.
I mean, there has to be a better way to report on children’s performance that isn’t limited to subjects and cross-curricular competencies (yes, we evaluate those too here), am I right?!
Why am I so critical, you ask? Well for many reasons, but for the sake of not rambling on and on, here are my top 3 reasons why I hate report cards and think they should be reformed.
1. Report cards are not a true reflection of the bigger picture. For example, an 80% in Science might indicate to a parent that their child is doing well. However, according to my criteria and my school board’s evaluation rubric, an 80% only means their child is “meeting most expectations”. Nowhere in the report card system does it allow me to say: “Your child has great rote memory and performs well on his/her quizzes and tests. However, your child relies heavily on his/her peers to get work done in class. He/she cannot execute a step-by-step experiment/lab independently as it would require he/she to draw upon and apply the Science method, nor can he/she explain the results and draw a conclusion.”
2. Report cards make me more anxious than the child receiving the report card. All too often I’ve hesitated to give a child an honest grade in Art, ELA, and Science because I’m afraid of how their parents will react. I’m afraid it might make the parent question my professional judgment and they will write up a complaint against me to my administrator. I’m afraid it might lead to repercussions at home, too, for the child. I’m also afraid I’ll be sequestered on Parent-Teacher night and forced to defend my grades alone in my office against a bullying parent.
3. Report cards don’t highlight the strengths and qualities of children that need fostering. A student that may be continuously disruptive in class and doesn’t take their subjects seriously, but often participates in discussions, answers questions correctly, and are great problem solvers, may perform poorly on tests or assignments due to their ADHD, but they often make for great leaders and public speakers. Also, a student that is introverted and needs to harness all their courage just to raise their hand in class, might be a clever and hilarious story writer with a great feel for setting the scene and describing characters. Evidently, I’m describing two of my students in these previous paragraphs. However, I’ve always been so frustrated as their teacher that I couldn’t share these wonderful comments with their parents or on their report cards for high schools to see.
All this to say, I hate report cards and I really wish those pencil-pushers at the Ministry of Education would hire experienced and innovative teachers to reform the evaluation system.
Instead, though, the Quebec government has now added even more to our plate when they announced last week that teachers will soon be expected to teach “toothbrushing”. Yes, that’s right. Teachers will now be required to supervise students while they brush their teeth following lunch hour. What the fresh Hell is this?!
I’d love to get your feedback on writing report cards. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Or, are you indifferent?
Let me know your thoughts by filling in the “leave a reply” form below!