Thursday, May 08, 2008

Reporting (and a note for Lori)

Note for Lori: Hi there.... I have a problem getting to your blog at the moment. It crashes my internet every time I click on it. An error comes up listing what my son tells me is a photo. Is anyone else having this problem? I am using Internet Explorer to read things. It is driving me crackers!

Well, now that I am back at work, I am noticing for myself, what must be very evident to everyone else. On the planet.

When I am home and not at work, my world is full of things which amuse me. My mood is lighter and my energy levels are higher. I smile more, am more relaxed , more creative, and I am happy. Back at work for 3 days and the complete opposite is true. I came home yesterday and was as listless as a dishcloth. Then I fell asleep on the couch at a ridiculously early hour, and slept through CSI yet again. Today was the same. I got home, and went and sat in the garden, and so help me, did not have the energy to do anything. And it was early. And it was also a beautiful hot and sunny day.

I have tried jet-propelling myself into action, but the spark is absent. And the rockets don't burst into action without that spark. They don't call things spark-plugs for nothing, you know. If they don't spark, you go nowhere. Even highly caffeinated coffee is not doing the trick. Believe me, I have tried. And ironically, it is not as though life has been appalling for the past 2 days. On the contrary, work has been relatively quiet.

It just does something to my spirit.

Exam season is upon us, and my son starts his finals next week. I sincerely hope this is the end of the exams I will have to live through. Once they go off to uni, the reality of exam stress becomes more distant. One way or another, this marks the 24th year I have lived through exams with my children. Not to mention the 14 of my own. 24+14=38. 38 years of exams!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am also writing reports. Now, I don't know about you, but I am very happy to get a single sheet of paper with a list of subjects, the class average mark for each, and my child's mark, with a comment which can be one word. Preferably. Like: Good. Outstanding. Bone idle. Could do better. Fair. Tries hard. You get the picture. My ideal report would be the unvarnished truth. If my child is a diabolical pupil, I want to know. If they are getting fullmarks, please DO NOT TELL ME HOW THEY CAN IMPROVE. It is enough to kill the spirit. I thought unconditional praise was good. Not on reports it isn't.

In my ideal report, the class tutor would write one line in conclusion, like: "Johnny always tries hard, and is a pleasure to teach." Or: "We need to have a chat as soon as possible about Johnny's lack of progress."

Simple, accurate and to the point. Now? Hahahahahahahaha. Modern education practice dictates that 21st Century teachers have to compose essays. We have to write 6 separate lines for each subject. For each child. 3 on achievement and 3 on targets. And they all have to be positive. Never negative. As a parent, I would lose the will to live. Or be deluded into thinking that my child was perfect when in reality he or she was a living scholastic nightmare. I do not want a book to read. Remember that some children do about 14 subjects. I know my child. One word would do. As long as it was the truth. The achievement comments must say what the child "can" do. If they wanted to. Maybe. Perhaps. If they turned up in class. If they ever bothered to do anything. If the moon was covered in green and yellow stripes.

I am becoming very good at writing "can" comments. Variations of them dance in front of my eyes when I try to go to sleep. But as I write them all, I have to wonder what is happening to education in the real sense. Targets are all very well, but children need to learn how to love learning, and that does not seem to fit into the programme anywhere.

Anyway. Enough of that.

Tomorrow is Friday and that means the weekend is almost here. Jeana is back in the States, and Morning Glory has arrived in the UK. Maybe they passed each other in the air. Janine arrives this weekend too. Such excitement! The sun continues to shine and we are having the most beautiful weather. Just glorious. I do believe I may start on my planting this weekend. Then it will really feel as though summer is on the way.


Chris said...

Johnny is a champion nose-picker. He worked very hard to achieve the worst grade in the class, and he succeeded!

Hmmm...are those positive enough? :-)

Anonymous said...

Snort. I too hate writing reports, but for completely the opposite reason. My students are so delightful and hardworking that I struggle to find anything to put in the 'targets' box and have to make things up. All apart, that is, from my Student of Doom, who has just complained to the department about me for giving her marks of which she does not approve. I quite want her to go away.

I'll be down your way the weekend of the 30th to see Janine. Yay! Yay! Yay! xx

Dawn said...

There are many things in today's schools that are distressing. One of them is not having real competition - the end of school "field day" no longer awards ribbons for achievement in each game - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, place etc. It might hurt someone's self esteem. So nobody gets to excel. Nobody experiences the agony of defeat or the thrill of victory. So sad!

The previous post - something we all need to hear and think aobut! I am so guilty of "thinking about you" and not doing anything about it.

Vee said...

Ohhh, yes, one learns to be a regular diplomat. As a mom to one who struggled, I appreciated the efforts it took to be gentle. The other didn't struggle one little bit and I would've appreciated the not telling of how perfection could be improved. It used to fry my proverbial fanny. And to think that I used this same dear teacher as a reference myself...oh no! LOL!

Exams, stress, and soul-sucking jobs must be banished asap, say what? ;>

meggie said...

Oh Linds, I wish you Summer!
I felt so different & positive about things while I was in NZ. Watching my 80 year old Aunt bustling about getting us lunch then dinner put me to shame. I felt so much more alive there than I seem to here.
I can understand your reluctance to be off at work.

Janine said...

Yay! I finally made it onto your blog. Shan hates writing reports too - 22 four year olds who all have to be assessed. Not the most fun job. See you soon.

Anonymous said...

We should conduct a survey to see if there is one teacher out there in bloggy land who actually thrives on writing reports. It's double Valium time, that's for sure. They(the educational power heads)ask for the reports to be 'authentic'. How many creative ways can you let a parent know that their child is rude,off task, has a poor work ethic and is critically below the State or National land marks without possibly damaging their 'fragile' self worth. 'A' for turning up every now and then. I agree with you that we need to instill in young learners a love for learning and for them to understand the value of education. Giving them false praise or filling their report cards with 'creative' comments is not the answer. A real shake up of the whole education system and how they deal with disrespectful, hurting, angry and undisciplined students would be great. Some school's are down right scary these days but we paint a picture, through report cards that it is not so bad.

I must balance this with the comment that their are some real hard working and engaged students who are putting in the effort and deserve a thousand hugs for hanging in there.

Hang in there. There is a season for everything - even report writing.

By the way your back garden looks inviting. Have you put the kettle on?

Barbara said...

Trust your weekend in this beautiful and warm weather is a time of recuperating from your obviusly stressful week Linds.

Needled Mom said...

Six lines for each subject??? You must be kidding. That is a simple nighmare. I remember my mother working for days on grades. It never did sound appealing to me. Perhaps that is why I went into nursing!

Unknown said...

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got into your gardening. I was feeling up to parr enough to get out and do some work on my large flower bed. I got half of it done. Now the next trip off of the mountain I need to pick up some more much and wait for another day that it isn't raining to finish up.

Wishing you the best Linds.

Lori said...

I just now am seeing this post 5/13. I'm so glad you were able to resolve it.