Professional Development,  Teacher Reflection

Report Writing – Comment Etiquette

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I recently had a Professional Development session with Pam Harper as part of our Yokohama Int’l School PD.  I was fortunate to have two sessions with her, one with the whole faculty in our Professional Growth group (our focus is leadership) and also as part of the Middle Managers group (with the HoD at and Year leaders at YIS).  I will blog about the work we did in a later post, but I wanted to share how this has impacted me as I write reports.

My report writing, like other teachers, is a work in progress.  I am not sure when any teacher decides that their report comments are the best they can offer, but I do think that mine improve with every year of practice.  The issues we face are that as single subject teachers, we end up writing lots of student reports at once and this can cause repetitive comments and the want to copy and paste similar comments around the students as writing over 120 reports in two weeks or so is hard work!

As a result of my Looking for Learning PD, I have decided to really watch the way I use the adjectives like ‘good’ or ‘great’ and try and focus more on learning adjectives like ‘deep’ or ‘growth’, ‘improve’ or ‘develop’.  I want to try and remove my value or judgement from student comments and try and quantify where they have demonstrated growth or improvement based on the concepts we have been studying.  When I am really looking or reflecting on doing this, I realise how much I do place value on what I see or hear my student do or say.

I have been working very hard over the last year to not say ‘well done’ or ‘great shot/pass/kick’ but to give some detail and explain to them what made their skill or work ‘good’.  I am striving hard to ‘undo’ this mindset and almost instantaneous practice and when I focus on this, I can do it.  But when I am tired or feel I see the same weak skill or attempt over and over, can revert back to old behaviours, happily I can say this is rare these days.

So as I write reports, I am working hard to say things like “Student X is a very positive PE student, s/he demonstrates a deep understanding of our concepts and ideas in each of our units.  Student X has shown improvement in ….. and is developing/maintaining communication skills…. Student X is encouraged to……”

So I want to know what your PE or teaching comments are like and what you strive to say or share with your students and families.

3 Comments

  • mhamada

    Thanks Blake, I think every teacher I know is writing reports at the moment! I find myself smiling at your report structure, as it is almost identical to the one our team just wrote for guidance on reports! I would be curious to know where your team keeps the bank of comments and if you would be prepared to share them (or a few of them( on your blog?? In our school if you are going to give a grade that is lower than a 3 (we go to 7) then you must give a progress report out to the family prior to the report going home. This makes good sense and leaves no room for surprises. Glad that you are thinking Blake! Looking forward to your next post too.

  • Blake Kampen

    So I challenged myself to get all 4 words in;

    is a pleasant, helpful and cooperative member of our Physical Education class. greatest achievement came in our floor hockey unit, where displayed deep understanding of sportsmanship and developed court awareness over the unit. will continue to progress and grow in Physical Education with this continued positive attitude. Congratulations on a successful semester .

    And I think it sounds pretty good 😉

  • Blake Kampen

    Hi Mel,
    Great timing as were writing reports right now!

    Ive tried to work with my staff to really improve the quality of our ‘comment bank’ (we have around 180 comments). Currently, we have been told we write some of the most insightful comments in the school, which was a great compliment.
    We have a basic structure which entails;
    -Beginning with a personal comment on their effort/personality
    -Mention the semesters focus and state where they have achieved
    -Suggest areas of improvement
    -Finish with a personalised positive overall comment

    Like the key words youve mentioned here – deep,growth, improve and develop!

    In a perfect world, the reporting comment should be something the parents are expecting and aware of through constant students and parent feedback. Something im keen to work on next year via email (idoceo app) and further work with sportfolios being shared with parents.

    Keep the great posts coming Mel, always gets me thinking!!

    Blake

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