Are reports worth the hassle?
The question is a dramatic one I know. There are people at home crying “Of course they are!”. They give parents information about their child’s learning progress. However, what I have come to realise is that reports are not as relevant and important as teachers think they are. Yes, parent communication is vital and essential. I agree whole heartedly with that. What I believe is that there are just better ways to do this than two formal reports a year. The amount of time, energy, even money for reporting days may not be worth it.
One of the first questions teachers ask at parent teacher interviews is “Have you read the report?”. You would be astounded by the amount of times the answer is simply no. After all, that time, energy, editing stress, formal documentation expectations, data analysis for the parents to understand their child’s progress and you get that dreaded one word no. So if parents simply don’t pay attention to it, is there are better way? Is it even worth the effort? Or are reports simply just way too hard to comprehend?
After the weeks of proof reading and checking, the reports are often based on old data. The data that we share especially in many other areas of learning such as Inquiry, is often ten weeks old by the time it is in a parent’s hand. I can’t often remember what I did a week ago, let alone ten. The sad fact is, many reports seems to be based on work samples that were relevant at that time. It doesn’t even mean that the children understand it or can recall facts 10 weeks on. Schools move so quickly that kids simply don’t use or need that learning 10 weeks later. You would be surprised how many times the kids have forgotten what happened that long ago. So therefore, they may not actually know what you are reporting on. If this is the case, how useful and relevant are the reports? Is the data simply too old and not as accurate ten weeks on?
After my years of experience, I understand the legal requirements of reporting. I simply think that there is a better way that is more relevant and useful. After all the time, energy and stress that goes into reports, I don’t feel that the outcome is worth it. My time would be better spent with the kids and doing things for the kids. They deserve the best version of me, not an anxious, exhausted and stressed out version. Sharing outcomes and small amounts of data ongoing would be a better option. There seems to be a shift towards reporting on data outcomes and sharing it with parents more regularly. That at least is manageable and gathering data is what I do anyway. You often don’t hear from parents wanting data until they understand that their child needs help. The teacher comment and description of the overall child is still the most relevant and beneficial. I still believe the general summary of the child as a learner is essential and shouldn’t change. The actual outcomes and standards and specifics of learning can certainly be shared and sent home early and more regularly. After all, wouldn’t parents want to discuss relevant data and build on that, rather than find out ten weeks later when it’s not as current?
Unfortunately, the time, energy, stress and change in the school year for reports is not worth it. Schools should be a place of learning and a place where the teachers are calm, happy and relaxed. Children often pick up on the moods of adults. People who are not teachers should never underestimate the extreme stress of reports. Imagine that you are told you need to write a summary on 30 of your co workers, with their strengths, challenges, learnings and skills. Then have to have it finished over a 6 week period. All that on top of your normal job. My issues are not with reports. It is part of my job and it is certainly essential to communicate progress with parents. I just believe there is a smarter way to report to parents. If you know one, be sure to send that information to the rest of us!
#teacher #education #reportwriting #twocreativeteachers