That’s right! It is upon us. Report writing.
I thought I’d share some very simple and easy tricks I have cultivated over the years to improve stress levels and reduce any possible anxiety during this time.
Let’s face it. Report writing is what comes along with the job, just like other professions there is always something that might cause more stress. what I have been reading on social media and hearing from colleagues around the state is the stress and elevated level of frustration during this time.
Simple steps I have found assist to remove further report writing drama are as follows;
1. Plan Accordingly.
No, this does not mean plan out a timetable of days you are going to complete a subject or class of reports ( though, depending on your time management that may not be a bad idea). What I mean is, when planning ensure you have the curriculum standard somewhere in arms reach. Every topic, unit or term of tasks need to relate to a curriculum standard, so why not have the overview by your side either in a timeline format, a box on the planner for the standard that will be reported on etc. to be sure that you are in fact teaching what is required. Please, do not get me wrong. Obviously we need to teach to the need of the student and by all means not JUST the standard. But, my point is, no harm in knowing you will be able to correctly progress each student to the appropriate learning progress point if you have planned accordingly. So, when a new topic comes around, check what is needed for the students in the years you are teaching to be sure to be prepared to assess the students abilities to the standard without being caught out and not having touched on that particular standard.
2. Preparation- Data
Now, data is great, and how you record students achievements in up to you and the school you are employed. Whether you record manually, or digitally, it’s really your preference. But be sure to record regularly. Those reading conferences, Guided reading and writing, those anedotal notes and pre-post test results and data be sure to try set aside time or even a day each week where you review and go over recording your data, results and notes as they can pile up and pile up quick. Save yourself the hectic dash to the finish line and what seems like an endless sea of assessments for a progression point.
also, work with your colleagues, check out their recording techniques. What do they do that might help you keep track in a way that is easier or more effective etc. Recently, I was shown a easy grid on a google drive which helped me as it had the standards on it. I have always used a grid of some kind whether it be in my teacher planner diary or on an excel sheet and more recently over the past 6 years a google drive spreadsheet, but I hadn’t always put the standards in for each skill being taught or covered by the various formative assessments etc.
So get talking about data recording, it will change your world. Some colleague out there will open up a world to stress free data recording and it will be the turning point in your stress level.
Even if you are the only teacher of that year level at your school, you can still moderate. Moderate with a variety of sources, discuss the students tasks and abilities and what has been demonstrated in a piece of work and do this regularly. It helps to support your reporting and the progression point you are allocating to a students ability. Even if your friends are teachers, have a moderation lunch, or afternoon hot chocolate in this cold winter weather. Just moderate.
Encourage your school to cross moderate a set task with schools close by and arrange a moderate date afternoon. I have been involved in this kind of event and it proved to be a great resource and connections were made that benefit not only my reporting and ensuring my students are meeting the standards but collegiate conferencing is so pivotal in my teaching practice now that making these decisions is easier and something that happens so regularly I don’t even notice it now. You can also network during these times and face to face interaction with likeminded people works wonders in times of stress no matter the situation.
Arrange yourself a MOD- POD and pod of people to moderate with.
4. Build the parent rapport.
Build working and positive relationships with parents to help ease both of you through the reporting process and the end result.
I recommend touching base with parents as frequently as possible even with a nice general chat about the weather and how their family is going or weekend. Without getting too personal- after all teacher and parent relationships need to be professional. However, building the communication between yourself and parents definitely supports the report process and the communication is already there and any meetings that need to take place are easier to have regardless of content.
5. Finally, just get it done.
Procrastination is the root of all evil in teaching. It WILL get you nowhere and nowhere is definitely a place that you do not want to be. Set yourself time to actually begin to understand the abilities of your students. And I mean from the very beginning, day one, first day of term 1. If you leave everything until the last minute, then trouble is sure to follow (well, usually). Stress will build, anxiety will sink in it’s teeth and a strangle hold like struggle will run every aspect of your life. You should not be working 38 hours overtime to get your reports completed. If you have planned well, recorded data well and moderated with colleagues then report writing shouldn’t be too time consuming.
At the end of the day, we should not have to break our backs to complete reports. While we do want them to be the truest reflection of the students abilities as possible, this does not mean that your life stops and stress takes the lead. All sorts of health issues can creep in and take hold. Don’t let this happen.
Take the time, plan, evaluate and ask for support if you need it. Please do not feel less of yourself if report stress has taken the lead. People are supportive around this time and there will be someone to support you through it. There is an end in sight and you are not alone.