Report writing time can be overwhelming for the most experienced of teachers, so you are not alone if you feel there’s a big, fat pile of work to get done!
But please don’t fear. We are here to help you get those reports across the finish line so you can start to enjoy the final weeks of the academic year with your students.
This blog post has specifically been written with new teachers in mind. We hope you find these 7 tips helpful and if you find yourself in doubt, remember these wise words:
Tip 1: A reporting timeline is your friend
Try to get on top of this at the start of the term in which your reports are due. A timeline will help you plan when assessments need to be completed for final grades, as well as, get on top of student grades and comments.
Sometimes schools provide a timeline for teachers to follow, while others give a due date. If you are in the latter situation, make a note of when your reports are due and work backwards to create your timeline so you can get everything done (without needing to pull an all-nighter).
Here is an example of a reporting checklist of things you may need to include in your timeline. You can find this in our Report Companion:
Tip 2: Have your assessment book ready
Check your assessment book is up to date and if not, get on top of that as soon as possible. If necessary, meet up with your grade partner/s and discuss what assessments need completing so you can accurately report on your students.
Pro tip: Exit tickets are the perfect and quick way to check if a student understands a concept or has mastered a skill.
Tip 3: Allocate blocks of time
Now reports are looming, you need to allocate time in your week to begin finalising assessment data, inputting grades and writing comments.
This might mean other things will drop off the list while you are working on your reports (for example, keep marking to a minimum during report time so that after school you can dedicate the time spent marking, completing reports.)
Other examples of things you can cut down on:
Putting up new classroom displays
Skipping a weekly email to parents if you write one
Repeating reading group activities two weeks in a row to save on planning
Pro tip: Write general comments in groups of 5. Over a week you will have all your general comments written and you won’t get burnt out in the process.
Tip 4: Teamwork makes the dream work
We are always telling new teachers that it is ok (and expected) to ask for help and report writing is no different. Other teachers can help you by:
Sharing their reporting timelines (see tip 1)
Showing or sharing past report comments they have written (if they offer you a digital version, take it and start selecting sentences you can use yourself). Remember, past report comments have been approved by the leadership team and reflect what is expected at your school
If you are on the fence about a grade, ask a colleague to help you nut it out
Asking for help is a sensible way you can work smarter and not harder (which is one of our mottos here at Rainbow Sky HQ).
Tip 5: Follow a system
Everyone writes reports differently, but this is the process we like to use:
1. Start by writing a bank of comments for each grade and subject you need to report on. You’ll find you can keep the comments similar for an A and B grade or B and C grade by simply changing the adjectives and adverbs. (Work smarter, not harder). Use a word bank to help you!
Find this word bank in our Report Companion.
2. Next, work out the grade for each student. You will double check this closer to submission time to confirm all your data pairs up. This will help with organising comments for different subject areas.
3. Write the subject comments for all of one grade at a time, starting from the top grade and working down or vice versa.
4. You may like to write 5 comments a night over a week or allocate a weekend morning to writing your comments. Doing a not-so-enjoyable task in a different location, like a café or library, can also help with productivity.
5. Once you have finished writing your reports, you want to check that your comments are on par with the students’ grades. Setting up a split screen on your computer can make this easier.
6. Upon completion do a final edit of your report comments. Most schools allocate a grade buddy so you can proofread each others reports. However, you could ask a family member or friend to help.
Pro tip: We recommend starting with the comments you find the easiest to write. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you get the momentum going, you’ll be off!
Tip 6: Remember you are just learning
It’s easier said than done but try not to get discouraged if you have many corrections to make to your comments. Take it as a learning opportunity ,and it will help you the next time you write student reports.
Also, see Tip 4 - it is ok to ask for help because you are still learning!
Tip 7: Reward yourself
Celebrate each time you make progress with your reports. This will motivate you to keep going and perhaps even finish them before your timeline.
At the end of the day, report writing season will be over before you know it. It is a time to showcase your professionalism, put your head down and just get the job done. However, remember, we are here cheering for you along the way.