Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Raise your hand, teachers, if you've experienced this. You hit a key and wipe out your previous comments created during the past ten minutes. You don't have enough days in the week and you give a unit test two days before report cards are to be finished. Your school board is doing reporting on-line and the site crashes. As you choose from the comment bank, you realize that they are so wordy, NO parent can fully comprehend what these comments mean. Sound familiar?

I know it's mere exhaustion and frustration this time of year, but it is report card season and all my teacher friends know what I'm talking about. Colleagues who are usually out the door by 3:31 p.m. are in their classrooms in front of the computer. People who go out on weekends to go lounging are at home marking final exams with their laptops. Bedtime is no longer 10 p.m. but midnight, and you grab a rare coffee (don't normally choose caffeine) on the way to work. Ahh, the season of class averages and next steps.

As much as I don't mind writing reports (I type fast so it really isn't too bad, just harder with a baby nowadays because I can't get to work until after 9 p.m.), I enjoy interviews more. It's the time of year I get to talk to the parents and I mean really talk. I get to explain my expectations of them NOT just the students. Sometimes notes and ten-minute phone calls don't do justice to what I need to say. I also love for them to see exemplars of Level 4 work and then show them their child's work in comparison to it.

I remember one year when a parent asked why their child received a C in Writing and I was happy to explain. "Your child doesn't start her sentences with a capital letter, she doesn't end them with any punctuation, and she doesn't print her letters correctly or neatly on the line. It's been three months of school." The parent seemed surprised, but much less taken aback when she saw her child's work presented in front of her. Personally, I think a C was generous and only given because this student tried to print familiar words and sounded out her words phonetically with some success. Despite some poor spelling attempts, her sentences more or less made sense.

Reports are due next Monday. I think my own personal deadline is tomorrow. Just want to get them done. Out of my hands, out of my mind, and of course, I need to get out and celebrate on the weekend...

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