It is report card writing season. This weekend is the big push. I am going to be spending a lot of time on the page. It’s all about my students supposedly, but it doesn’t really feel that way. I need to assign grades. Sigh. I have big allergies to this. It feels like labels. I don’t do labels. It feels stuck. A measure of achievement. Yet, learning in our room is all about movement. Traveling along a continuum. Big leaps. Tiny steps. Looping back and then surging forward. A. B. C+ These letters have little to do with that.
I need to use language that is supposed to be specific but actually confuses everyone including me. It’s hard to be specific and remove the jargon. It’s hard to be specific and capture each child. Oh, my, my. I am going to be spending way too much time in these next few days on the page writing about my students. How can I capture the wonder of the daily in the room magic in a document like this? Report card writing season. How I despise it.
What do I celebrate this week? All of the time doing what we do everyday. The shared experiences are what the learning is all about. It is where one can watch what these learners really do. So before I have to leap into the deep end of the report card writing situation I know I can’t avoid, I am going to hold up and savour some in the room moments.
Every day, I celebrate being in the room and bearing witness.
This week, I particularly treasured:
- Reading poems aloud more than once. Oh, Joyce Sidman, you are every kind of brilliant. Having the children clamour to share their favourite lines or phrases. That they ask if we can do this everyday.
- Listening to the sincerity expressed during gratitude circle. “I am grateful for the clothing give away. Some kids got to get some new things they needed. And they were happy.”
- Having a child (once described as a struggling reader) ask me if we could have some quiet time one afternoon. He wanted to read more. His book was too good to be away from.
- Math on Thursday morning. After 35 minutes of exploring problems and various ways to represent and solve them, I correctly pointed out that I hadn’t taught a thing but simply held up fantastic solutions and led a discussion. When the learning happens from each other, well . . .
- The giggles, the singing, the smiles that is buddy reading with our Kindergarten buddies. The quiet pride that lingers in the room when the little ones line up to leave.
- When one girl, new to our school this year, told me that this school feels like home. Her smile when she said this – everything.
I will write report cards.
I will try to showcase the growth, the personalities, the strengths.
But, I look forward to Monday when I can once again be
in the moment,
with the children,
in the room.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.
You have captured in words how I feel about report cards. Sigh. Thank you.
Love reading about your In the room moments.
Thanks Loralee. I much prefer writing about them – compared to this writing report card thing. Parts of these reports feel like I am writing about child’s service more than the child. Expectations. Sigh.
What a joy to be In the Room everyday. You have such a heart for teaching, and capture it so beautifully! This is such a wise and important post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for this lovely comment Kendra. Much appreciated.
I love all the daily celebrations in your classroom. I didn’t even think about the teacher’s side of giving out grades so this was an interesting perspective.
Yes, Earl, no fun at all. Our current reporting system needs to move past itself – forward and better all around.
I love reading about your classroom life – such joy and wonder there!
Thank you so much Tara! I do try to find joy everyday. It isn’t hard to find when you look (especially when you discover it in even the smallest moments).
I think you will agree with this post by Edna Sackson. She writes about early year report cards but I think it applies to elementary classes too. http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/instant-communication-and-twice-yearly-report-cards/
Your in room moments show how much of what is worth celebrating will never be captured on the report cards. I am glad that you keep a blog and share the joy of your room all over the globe.
I really appreciated this post Terje. Thanks for sharing the link with me. Our reports are really not responsive or respectful of what we should be sharing about our students, in my opinion. I wish I had a specific answer for how it could look different.
As Terje says, so much of what is worth celebrating can never be captured with report cards–or with any kind of assessment. I feel your pain! What wonderful in the room moments, though.
And one more day and a bit of this and I can just focus on those moments. I feel like I am in report card jail. Stuck in my seat making a document I don’t really believe in. Bleck.
My favorite quote “How can I capture the wonder of the daily in the room magic in a document like this?” Looks like you did this with photos love seeing your students’ smiles.
Thanks Maria. I would rather be celebrating always!
Your photos capture what matters to the kids and the parents. So much joy. I hope your families see this too. Too bad we can’t have that kind of report card. But you gotta do it. So hang in there and look forward to more celebrating with your kids.
I know. Gotta do. Motoring through – more that gets done, closer I am to Monday when I don’t have to do them anymore! (at least for a few months)
Report cards are so tough. Mine are coming up next week. I also enjoy these glimpses into your classroom-a truly wonderful place to learn and grow!
Thank you Gigi. It does feel pretty wonderful. Happy when I get feedback from the kids about how happy they are.
Hi Carrie, Some of our teachers were wrestling with report card grades as well. How can a, “B” summarize a child’s efforts? How can a teacher provide comments that reveal what the child can really do and what the next exciting step might be? You might enjoy contacting teachers Linda or Jenny at Davis Bay Elementary on the Sunshine Coast. They are reworking how to communicate learning with their primary students and their parent community. It’s very cool…and no letters!
I just might after I crawl out from this report writing! Thanks for the connections.
I love the structure of your post: on the page vs. in the room. The stories you tell through your blog and pictures say so much more about your students than could ever be told through a grade.
So very true. It is stories that well, tell the stories. Stories can’t have too many restrictions or they just don’t work.
I always love seeing your happy students, Carrie-does my heart good every time. We don’t do grades, but here at the end, high school applications demand transcripts. It isn’t easy, & most for me deserve & receive As, and that doesn’t tell much at all, I agree, even that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just say “read my blog!”
Oh, it so would. Even the effort comments seem so silly to me. We have to comment G (Good ) S (Satisfactory) or N (Needs Improvement) for each subject from Grade 4 onwards. If I were giving lots of S and N letters out, wouldn’t that say more about me than my students? We are all engaged and excited to learn – does G capture that? Oh, how I hate this, but back to it . . . My children attend a school, where they don’t get letter grades. It is refreshing and takes nothing away. I feel lucky that letter grades have not been a part of their world.
These photos are priceless. My kids are adults now, and I feel thankful they got to go to school in a time when quantifying and assessment were less of a burden on schools, students and teachers. Thanks for all you do for these young, budding spirits!
Thank you Tricia! I feel very lucky to work with such keen, inspiring students. We all learn together!
Aren’t the giggles precious. I cherish them. 🙂