After my previous post on report comments, I have been stuck on how to approach a blog post on the process of reporting and design of reports. Then I was pointed to a gimmicky piece on Stuff.co.nz, “Busy teachers share report-writing secrets”. I was slightly bemused by the whole thing, though I was reminded of the need to raise teacher expectations giving students the confidence, skills and understandings they need to exceed their own expectations. The question I was left pondering most was whether the ‘secrets’ talked about were worth knowing? While, I don’t have any reporting ‘secrets’ to share, I do have some thoughts from our work at HPSS:
- Reporting is an evolving process. There is a genuine willingness to adjust the reporting process to meet the needs of our students.
- Reporting is about learning AND personal development. Students are at the heart of the reporting process. Reports are written for and directed to students.
- Different modes of reporting are used, none of which is a secret to students or their whanau. There are four main ways that we communicate progress. This is through Individual Education Meetings (IEMs), Progress Reports, Formative Reporting and student-owned Learner Narratives.
- Reports are shared with students and whanau electronically using the KAMAR web portal.
- ‘Formative Reports’ are learning-focused and directed to the student. Comments are on student progress in relation to the learning objectives from each learning area. This report is a snapshot, signposting learning habits and strategies that are going well which students can transfer within or across learning areas and/or learning objectives.
- ‘Progress Reports’ are completed 4 weeks into each term. These are a snapshot, signposting learning habits and strategies relating to key learning dispositions. The learning dispositions encompass our Hobsonville Habits. Progress reports are published in a timely fashion to capitalise on the reporting opportunity. Unlike the traditional 4-6 week delay between, printing, proofing and mailing there is very little time lost between report creation and it reaching the student and their whanau.
- Students are provided with opportunities to reflect on learning dispositions prior to reports being issued, and reports are informed through teacher/student input. The indicators in this report will not be a surprise for students and by extension, their whanau.
- The Progress Reports are an opportunity to provide a high level overview while encouraging students to dig deeper into areas for improvement. These reports indicate ‘Always’, ‘Mostly’ or ‘Not Yet’ in all areas of their learning. (Learning Modules/Classes, Learning Hubs and Big Projects).
- A ‘Not Yet’ is used to indicate areas a student may need to improve and a comment provided. Comments are focused on helping students to improve by developing dispositions and encouraging reflection.
- Initially, our progress reports included the indicators ‘sometimes’ and ‘concern’. These indicators were replaced with ‘not yet’ in order to directly draw students away from the negative. Embracing a Growth Mindset attitude means that it is not a about whether or not the student has achieved. The focus is on helping students to improve by developing dispositions, reflect on their learning and employ strategies to support growth.
- Opportunities are provided for students to undertake pre-report reflections and to make comparisons with actual reported indicators.
Hattie explains that students are incredibly accurate about predicting their performance. What students often do is set safe targets. Our job as teachers is to disrupt that. Understanding what targets students set is only part of our job, the other part is to inspire them to do better. The way we write about our students should be beneficial for them. If a student can’t understand what has been written about them, does it make a difference if anyone else can? The child is at the heart of education. We so desperately want them to take more ownership and responsibility for their learning but refuse to acknowledge them directly in this part of their learning experience. The Stuff article talks about the idea that teachers would not tell a student they are “thick” because “if you tell people they’re thick, it stops them from learning.” Would it make a difference if telling a student they were thick helped them in their learning? No. I wouldn’t tell someone they’re thick because it is plain rude.