The Joy of Report Cards

Once in awhile, my supply teaching allows me to take a long-term position when a contract teacher is absent for a great amount of time. My most recent scenario has been teaching a split grade 1 and 2 class while the students’ teacher is on a maternity leave.

Therefore, I have had the opportunity to prepare report cards. They are finished now and so are the parent-teacher interviews. I have done them both before; however, there is always something new that I have not experienced before.

This time around, I was safe. No intimidating parents, upset that their child received a lesser grade than expected. No delays in printing the cards. No excessive grammar or spelling issues, pointed out to me by the administration.


I have this all down to a science now. I assess students throughout the term and so I have a good grasp of what grades will go onto the report cards. Then, I spread my workload over a few days. I am embarrassed to say that the first time I prepared report cards, I placed all the comments (I had over 30 students back then) in one night. I didn’t get to bed until 4:00 a.m. That’s how naïve I was.

Photocopying the report cards (we need a copy for the students’ files) and adding my signature takes at least an hour in themselves.

Report card work is not difficult if we teachers have done our homework (e.g., assessing the students) throughout the term. It is the tedious nature of the work that takes time. I have not always been content with the generic comments we submit. These take away from the personal nature of writing reports. Also, some of the comments appear vague to me. For example, when assessing the students’ Learning Skills (e.g., Organization), we can write N for Needs Improvement, S for Satisfactory, G for Good, and E for Excellent. To me, S and G are equivalent; whereas, we are probably expected to see S as fair.

The teacher in the room next to me was thrown off by a parent whose child received all A’s except a B- for Art. The parent wanted to know why her son only received a B-. Usually, parents are more concerned about marks for Language Arts and Math.

One always has to be ready to defend himself when discussing marks. He can never predict what is going through a person’s head.


About randycoates

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.
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