It is that time of year again when all talk in meetings tends to lean towards the report writing deadline. For many teachers around Australia, it is even harder than normal because we are reporting to the national curriculum for the first time.
Last year was my first year writing reports, and I won’t lie, it was hard. I was lucky enough to have a teaching partner from the room next door who helped me, and my fellow graduate, by inviting us over for coffee, food and report writing help. Despite this, though, there were still plenty of things I wish I had known…
I cannot stress this enough. Even if your school does not have report writing sessions for another few weeks, start now. Organise your anecdotal notes, pre- and post-tests, photocopy work samples (or have a folder for them on your computer) and make sure you have all of the evidence you need. Begin to write general comments, or short parts that you can add in (about their rich tasks, perhaps).
Create a strategy
Decide if you prefer to write by student or by subject. Personally, I prefer by subject, so that the standards are still in my head and I don’t have to keep referring back to them. I also organise my notes by subject, so that makes it easier for me. If you prefer by student, organise your thing so you can look at one student’s work a night.
Plan it out
Have a target to reach each day, leaving you a couple of days free before the due date, just in case. I prefer to write more on the weekends, so I can exercise weeknights, but you may prefer to leave your weekends free. Whatever you do, make sure it is an achievable aim – you’re probably not going to write five students reports after school in one night.
Take a break
Your brain occasionally needs a break from reporting, or you will make mistakes. After a set amount of time, take time to move around/stretch/make a drink etc. By taking breaks, you will actually work more efficiently.
A small chocolate, going out with friends, twenty minutes to make yourself a fresh pot of tea. All of these things help make report writing less painful. See if anyone at work wants to meet at someone’s house, or a cafe to write together. Even when you’re not talking, it is more pleasant to write in a different environment.