Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Report Card Madness

Report cards come around way too often. OK, maybe they really only happen three times during the school year, but they sure feel like they're always looming over my head. It doesn't help that the report cards are huge (17¼ x 11 inches - too big to work on at a coffee shop, on airplanes, or at my desk) not even counting the separate comments section. Nor does it help that they are made of four layers of "carbonless" paper, which means that every time I fold them or lean on them, let alone make accidental marks, I have to correct four copies.

The main problem is that I am not at all convinced that any of the parents read the report cards, or understand what they mean if they do read them. Some of the fields are measured in numbers (1=Far Below Grade Level, 2=Below, 3=Approaching, 4=Proficient, 5=Advanced), some in symbols (check, plus, and minus), and some in initials (EA=Early Advanced, and so on. And there's a lot of fields to be measured. All of the report cards have to be in English - the best we can do for the Spanish-speaking parents is to give them a blank report card in Spanish so they can see what the different headings are. There's nothing to help any parents who speak any other languages. Yes, I know this is America, but it would be nice if we had some ability to help parents who were showing an interest in their child's education.

And they take a LOT of time to do. I finally looked at a "sample comments" paper a colleague gave me a while back. Never thought I'd run out of creativity with report card comments, but I've been sneaking some looks. There are all sorts of gems like:

XXXX’s attitude toward school is [excellent/very good]. She/he is a [very] good worker and an attentive listener.

XXXX has worked hard to adjust to our class. His/her performance has been up and down, and is often distracted by others in the class. He/she often draws in class instead of paying attention.

He/she needs to read as much as possible to increase his/her vocabulary and comprehension.

XXXX is a bright, intelligent student who enjoys school. He/she works hard to do a good job, especially in Language arts/reading/writing/spelling/math.

Read every day [as much as possible] [frequently] to develop/increase vocabulary and improve comprehension.
I never thought I'd stoop to copying and pasting these things but I'm more tired this year than I've possibly ever been. It might be time for a break from teaching. In the meantime, I'll have to be careful that I copy and paste correctly. It would be awful if I put in the comments: "Billy is a great/hyperactive/psychotic/smelly student. He/She should keep it up/be tranquilized/be committed/be bathed.


Jessica said...

Go see an endocrinologist and make sure your thyroid is functioning well. Make sure they have some expertise in this. (Are you losing hair? Are you unusually cold? Are you itchy? Are you having more nerve-ending kinds of problems, like muscle aches, carpal tunnel, forgetfulness?) Basically collapsing in exhaustion is in fact a thyroid thing, and prolonged stress (chronic adrenal overload) can trigger thyroid problems.

Also, can I PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE then start showing this blog to people who could possibly help you, like, say, the Alameda Education Foundation? I've wanted to respect your request for privacy, but....If you were in Fremont, we have grants we could give you. they're much easier to write up than report cards. I don't know if Oakland has a Local Ed Foundation, but you'd think their community foundation could get you resources.

I did forward your kleenex/purell DonorsChoose thing to my friend at Kaiser -- not the foundation, just the healthsystem -- but I haven't heard back yet.

Jessica said...

OK, like


Though frankly I'd contact the east bay foundation and see if they could help you with the disease propagation issues.

We've been discussing the following:

One kid gets sick and misses school, this means the school district loses $35 or so. (Because school funding is SO broken!)

Or, instead, the kid comes to school and gets five other kids sick, of which at least one has to stay home for one day - again $35 minimum to the district.

(In areas of asthma, this possibility increases.)

Or, instead, one sick kid comes to school and the teacher gets sick, and then the district has to pay for a sub, which here is over $100/day, not to mention lost progress.

In contrast: bringing a flu-shot van to school and immunize all the teachers and students. This does start looking economically wise -- as well as being just a good idea.

Bronwyn said...

I got a flu shot and I think I'll get my thyroid checked, although I don't seem to have any of the other symptoms. I'm tired enough that I am actually thinking about taking a year off teaching, although I don't want to leave these kids. I'd love to do something that was 2 days a week (prep teacher?) and something else to pay the bills (writing? who knows). But I don't know if that is financially viable.

You can tell someone at the Alameda Ed Foundation or something if you can find someone who can keep it anonymous. Someone who will agree to only pass on posts that are copied with my name taken out or something? I don't know. I'll think about if I'd be willing for more. I'll post soon about the burnout and specific thoughts about changing careers or taking a "sabbatical" or cutting down hours...

And you're not kidding about the loss of money when kids are out sick! It is seriously messed up!!