Do you have any idea how good I am at procrastinating? Absolutely fabulous. Especially when it comes to calculating report card marks and writing comments. My house will suddenly become spotless (even the ring around the tub will vanish), my laundry will be washed and folded… I might even catch up on writing a blog post or two. But that daunting task of evaluating will be ignored until the last minute.
Have a peek at Brandon Grasley’s post about Improving Report Card Comments With a Checklist. You’ll see that it isn’t exactly the most thrilling experience for him either. In fact, I’ll bet that most people would agree that the process of assessing student work is so much more beneficial to the working relationship between teacher & student than that of ranking the success of a variety of projects and tests in order to come up with a number that somehow represents the knowledge attained by each child in class.
So, I did just that. Rather than writing a comment filled with ‘edu-babble’, I wrote my comments so that they were understandable, meaningful and might be used to help my students. My test: I read each one with my students today in class. If it didn’t make sense to them, or wasn’t quite right, they had the chance to let me know. They were asked to tell me if it reflected their experience, and if anything should be changed. I was especially grateful for the students who had recommendations for edits that better represented their strengths and next steps for learning.
After chatting with each student, I realized what a great opportunity we just took advantage of. They realized that I cared about their individual goals and wanted to help them find the best way to reach their next step. They became a bit more confident knowing that they were a partner in this learning experience; that the word of the teacher isn’t the “be all and end all”. This classroom, this place where we meet five times a week, isn’t just a place for the teacher to play boss. This is a place where we figure things out.