Elementary Report Card Comments.
Make Writing Them Less Stressful!!

Elementary report card comments - WHAT to say, and HOW to say it - that's the question!

Writing school report cards is probably the most stressful part of the teaching profession and teachers must do them 3 times a year.

Report Card Expectations

* Choosing the curriculum expectations for the year in September is crucial!

* Teachers must teach according to these expectations and (depending on the principal or school board) all or almost all of the expectations in the curriculum guide must be covered by the end of the year.

* Depending on the School Board of Education and especially the principal, the school report card format can differ totally:

- Report card comments (curriculum objectives) can be written in bullet, sentence or paragraph form.

- Marks may be given in either percentage or letter format and comments for the various subjects.

- For certain subjects such as Language Arts and Math "Next Step" is included to specify the areas that the student should focus on for the next term. This is done for the first and second report cards only.

* When I had a grade partner (someone teaching the same grade as me) we would sit together the first month of the school year and choose our first term report card expectations.

What to Say and How to Say It

1. Report cards done properly, should give both the students and parents an overview of the student's continued progress in a term (about 4 months) in the academic, personal and behavioral areas of interest, hopefully displaying steady improvement throughout the year.

2. Keep in mind to take negative report card comments and turn them into positive ones, e.g. "With more practice, Jason will become more fluent with his multiplication facts". If you think hard enough you can come up with a positive spin to a negative comment.

Older students (Grade 3 and up) may read their report cards so beware - it could be a sensitive issue. Depending upon what is said, report card comments can also build self confidence in your students.

3. Write your teacher report card comments in simple or "layman's terms" so that parents will clearly understand what you're trying to say.

4. Be honest, encouraging, professional and diplomatic. Don't try to pull the wool over the parents' eyes.

5. Don't be too easy in giving very high marks ( "A+" or high 90's) on the 1st term report cards. Leave room for improvement.

Students SHOULD be improving throughout the year and that's what you want parents to see. There could be a small decrease in the student's performance (down to an "A", which is still outstanding) and then the parents will be on your back asking "What's going on, why is my child not doing as well as before?"

Other Things To Keep in Mind

1. Keep in mind that the final report card mark should be calculated from daily work, homework and classroom participation and not just from tests and quizzes.

2. Some parents compare their child's report card to their friends' children's report card and you don't want them asking you "Why didn't you do Geometry this term like the other grade teacher?" (and believe me, they will).

3. You will also need to write a long range plan (covering the full school year). (Many principals ask for them at the beginning of the school year).

4. Write down what you will teach (not the lesson plans) during each month for each subject. It may take you a while to complete, but, it will give you an overall view of the year, so you won't panic in May or June when you realize that you forgot to teach something. It's a wonderful idea and worth doing.

5. There may be times when report cards are due back to the V.P. or principal before you have finished a unit or a test still needs to be marked and included in the grade. Don't panic, remember a mark or a report card comment can be added later - the beauty of the computer.

6. Parent teacher conferences may not take place until 3 or 4 weeks after report cards have been distributed to students and parents. Sooo, make sure to review the report cards and your report card comments prior to seeing each set of parents.

7. Be sure to check out my

Report Card Template which will provide you with a list of useful descriptive phrases for nine different learning skills.

Whether you're new, inexperienced, or have taught for 33 years as I have, all teachers are in the same boat and feel the same way about report cards. It's part and parcel of the job so just do them.

Afterwards you'll feel a that tremendous load has been lifted from your shoulders - you can then relax and breathe again until ... the next term's set or report cards rolls around!

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