By Teachers, For Teachers
Writing progress reports is probably one of the most time-consuming classroom management tasks that teachers have.
A few times a year, teachers have the challenge of sitting down and completing these reports for every student in their classroom. The main reason for writing these progress reports is to alert parents if their child is on track before report card time. If executed well, the report will give a brief overview of how things are going, as well as offer some insight and guidance to the student and their parents. The goal in writing these reports is for the students to take this advice, then take the necessary steps to make the improvements that are suggested.
The classroom management key to writing an effective progress report that will be taken seriously is to be specific as well as objective. It is not wise to be judgmental, nor is it wise to offer a blank statement such as “Brady is not doing well in math.” That statement offers nothing to a parent or a child.
A more specific and objective statement might read, “Brady is having trouble learning his multiplication facts and could benefit from practicing at home.” This statement shows the parent what their child is having a hard time with, as well as what they could do about it.
So, how do you use classroom management to write an effective report that will get results?
Here are a few specific classroom management tips on what you can do.
The first thing that you need to do is plan head. While most teachers already do this for many other tasks, they do not all do this for every task. A progress report is just one of the many tasks that you have to complete several times throughout the school year. By planning ahead of time, you are eliminating a lot of work for yourself later on in the school year. Before the school year even starts, type out your classroom policy plan, behavior management plan and grading policies. Then, send this information home with the students so if you write anything on the students’ progress report that the parent doesn’t understand, the parent can refer back to this paperwork.
Teachers have a plan book for a reason: It is a great reference as well as guide to help you throughout the year. It is essentially a roadmap to help you keep track of where you need to be and how the students are doing. Keep a record of everything, from who turns in their homework on time, to who is paying attention in class. All of this information will help you when writing your progress reports. If this seems like a lot of work for you, it actually isn’t. Technology has made it quite easy for teachers with apps like Teacherkit and Gradebook. Instead of scrambling to write everything down on paper, all you have to do is grab your tablet, open an app and tap on a button.
If you really want to make life easier on yourself then you will want to design your own progress report template (or you can find one online). You can design your own custom form that suites your needs. Here is an example of a few add-ons that you may want to include in your report.
As stated earlier, the key is to not be too judgmental, but to be objective and state specific examples in your report. Your overall goal is to give parents enough information so that they can make an informative judgment on how well their child is doing on their own. You can state a positive with a negative when making comments, just as long as you always end with a positive. This technique is called sandwiching criticisms. Many teachers find this as a highly effective way to get their point across without sounding too judgmental. Here are a few dos and don’ts so you can get an idea of what we are talking about.
“Jen has come to class unprepared five times this semester.”
|“Jen did not come to class prepared.”|
“Joe has got up from his seat at least five times during math class this semester.”
|“Joe is disruptive in class.”|
“Jake has forget his math book six times this semester.”
|“Jake is unprepared for class.”|
As you can see in the examples above it is important to be very specific and “Show” parents what you are talking about when writing your comments. Even if you have do not have any constructive criticism for the parents, it’s important to be specific even when you are commenting something positive. For example, if you are writing that, “Mary is a pleasure to have in class,” be sure to state why she is a pleasure. You can write something like, “Mary is a pleasure to have in class because she pays attention and is helpful and kind to her classmates.”
The goal of writing a progress report is to help parents stay informed on how their child is doing currently in your class. If you do not want your students to see the report, then you should either mail it directly to the parents, or send it home in a sealed envelope.
Do you have tips on writing effective progress reports? What are some of your dos and don’ts? Please share your expertise with your fellow educators, we would love to hear your ideas. All you have to do is write your thoughts in the comment section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.