I am writing reports that need to be less than 600 characters including spaces! This is less than four text messages. Certainly keeps you focussed on saying what is important.
I have learned the following about writing reports;
- At this time systematic, formal reports are essential as a means of communicating between school and home regarding student performance (and maybe indirectly school and teacher performance?)
- KISS. Literacy levels of those reading the reports may not be as high as you think.
- KISS. The more “however”, “;” and “and” you include the more likely you are to instigate debate on correct grammar
- KISS. Use cut and paste and then customise for each student. Don’t fret, most students fall within a well defined set of parameters with regards to behaviour, homework, participation, attendance and achievement. And they are doing the same subject.
- KISS. Say something good, something factual, something to improve and close with something positive. An unnamed teacher at an unnamed college (not mine) said “The s%^$ between the sandwich”, probably not a phrase I would use.
- It is quite useful at times to ask students what they think should be in their reports.
Coming from business……..I think that like any performance management system there should be NO SURPRISES. If there are then the teacher/school is not doing its job. It is hardly useful 50% through the year to start advising parents of achievement or attendance challenges.
Finally…. In the future will we even need six monthly reports? Quite a lot of debate starting up in this area. Could reports be “real time” and accessed via a parent portal, using routine information collected on a regular basis.